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The New Arab

Dozens demonstrate in Jerusalem over killing of autistic Palestinian

Protesters compared Hallak's death with that of George Floyd in the US [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 May, 2020

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Protesters carried signs reading "Palestinian Lives Matter" and "Justice for Iyad. Justice for George".
Dozens of people gathered in Jerusalem on Saturday evening to protest the killing of Iyad al-Hallak, an autistic Palestinian man shot dead by police.

Demonstrators in Jerusalem's Old City carried signs reading "Iyad's life mattered" and "Palestinian Lives Matter", echoing the Black Lives Matter movement that originated in the United States.

One protester's sign read "Justice for Iyad. Justice for George", referring to George Floyd, the black man whose death at the hands of a white Minnesota police officer sparked nationwide protests in the US this week.

"Police violence in East Jerusalem is policy, just like the policy against black people in the US," said Shahaf Weisbein, one of the protest organisers.

"Police violence and the policies of occupation against the Palestinians are a sad routine. It is time to end the occupation, and for justice for all victims of police violence everywhere," Weisbein said according to +972.

Hallak was shot dead by Israeli police earlier on Saturday in Jerusalem's Old City.

Authorities said Hallak, who was autistic, had refused to stop for police who said they saw the Palestinian "carrying a suspicious object that appeared to be a gun".

The unarmed Palestinian then fled the scene, running and hiding behind a garbage dumpster as police chased him. Hallak was then shot as many as 10 times, according to a lawyer representing his family.

The "suspicious object" on his person was a mobile phone, later reports by Israeli media revealed.

Hallak's parents told local media that their son had been on his way to a special needs school where he worked, and that they had told him to hold on to the phone to make sure he arrived safely.

"He wasn't capable of harming anyone," his family told Haaretz.

Dozens of people also gathered to protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the besieged Gaza Strip, said the shooting "proves the sadism of the Israeli leadership".

"The response of our people, every time, will be continued resistance and intifada," the group said on Saturday.

On Sunday, Alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Israeli authorities would "investigate" the shooting.

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