Two Terrorists Taken Down, One Unimpeachably and the Other Shamefully
Two videos made it online after the weekend terror attacks in the Old City of Jerusalem. Both make my blood curdle and my heart break. One makes me ashamed.
In the first, we see, from the point of view of the Arab eyewitnesses, part of the terror attack in which Aharon and Adele Banito and Nehemia Lavi were stabbed and the Banito’s toddler son shot in the thigh. We hear her screams for help, her babies’ cries, and the pop pop pop of guns. Some of those shots killed the terrorist, Muhannad Halabi (21), who had fatally wounded Aharon Banito and Lavi and who put Adele and her son into hospital, the former in critical condition.
What was most horrifying in the video was the behaviour of the onlookers. Adele later told of running from the scene with the last of her strength, a knife stuck in her shoulder, begging eyewitnesses to save them, only to be hit by one, spat on by another and sneered and laughed at by others. We don’t see that in the video, but we do see the nonchalance of those alongside the one filming the events. They watch as if they are watching a movie on TV: not a thriller, as befits the event unfolding before them, but a documentary film about wildlife in Africa. Their lack of emotion is chilling. You can see the video here.
In the second video, we see a young man running and Jews who are, on the one hand, yelling at him to go away from there and, on the other hand, corralling him within a shrinking circle of men. A police car drives up and you hear the pop pop pop of their guns, seven pops to be exact. The young man falls to the ground. A police officer jabs at his body with his feet, apparently to make sure he is dead. He was later identified as Fadi Aloun (19).
You can hear one man ask the other if the dead man was a terrorist who had just stabbed someone. Part of the answer was indiscernible but he did clearly say “He did not succeed” meaning that the victim was not fatally wounded. It is possible that at least some of these Jewish men had witnessed the stabbing of the 15 year-old Moshe Malka and knew for fact that this was the attacker. But is that what happened? Did the police who shot him know? Was he threatening anyone at that time?
Israeli news reports claim he was still holding the knife when he was shot, a few hundred meters from Damascus Gate where the attack occurred. However, it is also absolutely clear that even if he was the one who stabbed Malka and still held the knife in his hand, he was not a danger to anyone present at the moment and the police could have easily overcome him and taken him into custody.
If we want to give the the officers credit (that I’m not sure they deserve), this appears to be an example of gross misjudgement on their part. I can only assume that the police who arrived had been affected by the urgent tone that likely brought them to this spot or by the emotions raging in the atmosphere at the site. They may also have been affected by the horrid attack not far from there just a few hours previously.That does not excuse their overly quick and disproportionate (yes, I will use that word in this instance) use of force. UPDATE 2 Jan 2017 – I spoke with Mickey Rosenfeld, Israeli Police Foreign Press Spokesman, and he gave me more details about what happened here that put this whole incident in a different light. I write about that here.
While his family is, of course, saying that Aloun is innocent, even if he is later confirmed to have been the attacker, his shooting death at the behest of incensed onlookers is both unjustifiable and, I would assume, illegal. Will there be an inquiry and possibly charges laid? Somehow I doubt it.
Feature Image Credit: Times of Israel Facebook Page, 4 October 2015