Trial of Israeli soldier accused of killing autistic Palestinian man begins

Trial of Israeli soldier accused of killing autistic Palestinian man begins
2 min read
West Bank
27 February, 2022
Eyad al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian, was shot and killed by an Israeli officer in Jerusalem's Old City on his way to his special needs school in May 2020.
Eyad al-Hallaq was shot and killed by an Israeli officer on his way to his special needs school in May 2020 [Getty]

The trial against a an Israeli officer accused of "reckless homicide" for the killing of an autistic Palestinian man in 2020 began on Sunday, local media reported.

During the trial, the officer was brought into the courtroom with a face covering and placed behind a screen in a bid to keep his identity hidden, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The next hearing will be held on 9 May. 

If the 20-year-old officer is found guilty, he risks up to twelve years in prison.

Dozens, including right-wing Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, protested against the trial outside the Jerusalem District Court, calling the officer a "hero", Haaretz said.

Eyad al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian, was shot and killed by an Israeli officer in Jerusalem's Old City on his way to his special needs school in May 2020.

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At that time, prosecutors from the police internal investigations department said in a statement that the decision to charge the officer "was made after deep examination of the evidence, examination of all the circumstances of the incident and the claims heard during the officer's hearing".

They said Hallaq's death was a "serious and unfortunate incident" and that the officer shot him "while he took an unreasonable risk that he would cause his death".

An indictment was expected to be filed in March 2021, but it was postponed following a petition to the Supreme Court by the officer's defence counsel.

Rights organisations have slammed the systemic over-use of violence by all levels of the Israeli military.

"This policy is backed by the most senior ranking military and government officials who do nothing do change it, despite the lethal results," Israeli NGO B'tselem has said.

The impunity of Israeli forces who use excessive force has also been a contentious issue over the past year.

The highest profile case has been that of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who received a 14 month prison sentence in September 2017 for manslaughter after shooting 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the head as he lay wounded on the ground, killing him.