Israeli police under fire for investigating officers who shot terrorist after he fell to ground

“The Border Police officers took the quick and determined action expected of Israel Police officers against a terrorist,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. 

By Aryeh Savir/TPS

The Internal Affairs department is facing mass criticism from the political and professional echelons after it summoned for investigation the two Border Police who shot dead an armed terrorist on Saturday in Jerusalem.

The two were securing the Damascus Gate area when an Arab terrorist stabbed and wounded an Israeli Jew. The two fired at the terrorist who fell to the ground.

On the ground, and still armed with the knife, he moved and appeared to try and get up. The troops fired at him again.

The two were summoned by Internal Affairs on Saturday night for an investigation with a warning.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was updated on the findings of the preliminary investigation and stated that “the Border Police officers took the quick and determined action expected of Israel Police officers against a terrorist who tried to murder an Israeli civilian. I would like to extend to them full backing. This is how our officers are expected to act and this is how they acted. We cannot allow our capital city to become a focal point of terrorism,” stated Bennett.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated that he “strengthens the security forces and Border Police who acted quickly, sought contact with determination and brought an end to the criminal terrorist incident at the Damascus Gate, and saved lives. I completely back our fighters. We will not allow terrorists to run wild throughout Jerusalem and anywhere else in the country.”

Israel Police Inspector-General Yaakov Shabtai called to expedite the investigation of the incident and stated he fully backs the troops.

Shabtai noted that previous terror attacks have “taught us that we must bring about the complete neutralization of a terrorist during an event and that is exactly what the Border Police fighters did in a quick and determined response to the attack on the civilian and an attempt to harm them.”

He further noted that “in a terrorist incident the fighters and policemen are required to make a decision in a split second and they made the right decision.”

“These soldiers are not alone. I give full backing to their activities and we as the police will stand by them, help and assist in whatever is required,” he declared.

“Anyone who seeks to harm police officers and civilians should know he is a dead man,” he concluded.

At the end of their interrogation, the two troops were released without conditions and returned to their unit.

Facing the criticism, The State Attorney’s Office unusually announced that the investigation is a regular procedure after every incident in which a terrorist is shot.

The State Attorney’s Office clarified that “when a civilian is killed as a result of police gunfire, Internal Affairs conducts an investigation. This is a regular and routine procedure, and therefore the existence of the investigation does not cast doubt on the conduct of the police officers in the incident.”

Internal Affairs further stated that “it is its duty in such incidents to strictly observe the requirements of the law and to balance the vital need to protect any human life and the duty to allow police fighters to effectively, fearlessly, protect public life from hostile elements, while recognizing that the police officer involved in a terrorist attack or life-threatening incident exercises judgment and makes decisions usually within seconds, in the midst of a stirring event and out of a sense of urgency.”

“In this case, too, Internal Affirms investigators performed their duties with the required professionalism and sensitivity, and a decision will be made at the end of the investigation and after examining all the circumstances,” it said.