Amira Hass on killing of Ziad Julani + one question

Haaretz has published an article today entitled: “Witnesses: Police shot hit-and-run driver instead of arresting him“.

It is written by Amira Hass. She reports that: “A motorist from East Jerusalem who ran over and wounded several Border Police officers Friday was shot twice in the face from close range while still lying on the ground, eyewitnesses said. Neighborhood witnesses said the fatal shots were fired once the officers no longer had reason to fear that their lives were in danger, and could have easily arrested the suspect. Witnesses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz told Haaretz that the motorist, Ziad Jilani, suddenly swerved his car and hit the group of officers walking further up the road. They said, however, that they believed the collision was an accident, and not committed intentionally as initially reported” …

Amira Hass writes that witnesses recount that Ziad Julani was killed around 2 pm, after Friday prayers. In her researched account, there is no mention of any “flying checkpoint”.

According to her information: “Several minutes before the incident, Border Police officers were seen riding horses toward the Wadi Joz industrial area. A number of other officers were deployed around the area, and several started making their way toward Jerusalem’s Old City. Jilani’s car was traveling in tightly packed, slow-moving traffic with no oncoming vehicles. The neighborhood soon filled up with people returning from Friday prayers, and some stores were already being opened. Two eyewitnesses said stones were hurled at the officers, one of which struck Jilani’s car. He then swerved his car left, they said, veering from its lane and striking the group of policemen. Shots were heard immediately, another witness told Haaretz, and one of the officers fell to the ground. Two policemen tended to him [n.b., this refers to a wounded police or Border Police officer — was he injured by a stray bullet his colleagues had fired?] until an ambulance arrived, and the other officers got in their vehicles and began pursuing Jilani [in packed traffic, in a congested area?], who had continued driving after the collision, and shooting at his car. Another witness said that he had not seen stones thrown, but rather believed Jilani had tried to overtake the vehicles in front of him. Several other witnesses said the windshield of Jilani’s car had been shattered, but were unsure if the damage had been caused by a bullet or a stone. Jilani turned his vehicle into a dead-end alley where his uncle lives, and the officers continued pursuing his vehicle and shooting”.

The testimony here, again, confirms all other reports that Ziad was finished off while already wounded. There is no indication — including in the Border Police accounts — that Ziad was armed: “A mother and her adult daughter present at the scene saw the man emerge from his car. The daughter told Haaretz, ‘I was further down the alley, and I heard shots … I saw a car driving, followed by many police officers. The car stopped right next to me, and someone got out. I saw him next to the car door, and he looked at me with an expression I didn’t really understand, but I will never forget. There was shooting and I started to scream’, the woman continued. ‘My mother ran toward me and threw me to the ground. Everything happened within seconds. I realized he wasn’t walking normally, and saw the shattered windshield of the car, maybe from a stone. He ran until he fell over’, she said. Ten meters separated the parked car and the spot where Jilani fell to the ground. ‘He got out of the car, and they came after him. Not just one of them shot, but many of them, and then they started yelling in Hebrew for people to go back into their homes’, the daughter said. Both women said they saw Jilani lying on his stomach with several officers gathered around him, and the daughter said one of the policemen kicked him in the head. The mother said she saw an officer point his rifle extremely close to Jilani’s head, and when she put her head down to the asphalt she heard a shot ring out“.

Haaretz managed to get some response — apparently in writing (fax or email) from a Border Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Moshe Pinchi, who wrote: “Individuals have been killed and dozens wounded in vehicle attacks in Jerusalem between 2008 and 2009 … All of those attacks were committed by East Jerusalem residents, and in each case those close to the perpetrators described the incidents as ‘accidents.’ Four Border Police officers were wounded in this last incident in Wadi Joz and hospitalized for treatment, and only by a miracle were fatalities avoided’.”

For Border Police spokesman Moshe Pinchi (Pinchee, Pinchay) every “vehicle attack” is apparently the same. There is no possibility of human error, or panic, or even a mild heart attack or stroke, or any other less murderous reason than a deliberate intention by East Jerusalem residents to commit acts of “terror”. And then, according to the Border Police spokesman, “those close to the perpetrators” all lie about it afterwards, and insist the “incidents” were “accidents”.

But, he is clearly wrong in one important matter: fatalites were not avoided. There was one fatality: a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, a man — a husband, father, son, brother, friend, a once-living, loving, breathing human being — named Ziad Julani.

Amira Hass’ report today is published in full here.

Information I have heard from another source indicates that Ziad Julani may indeed have had a recent run-in with Border Police during protests and clashes during tensions [which the Israeli authorities claim, perhaps not completely wrongly, are the result of “incitement”, though it might better and more accurately be called overwrought excitement, fear and anxiety] over possible settler attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Ziad was reportedly hit by Border Policemen during one of these recent times of tension [roughly, from October through March], and he was asked to report twice to the Russian Compound in West Jerusalem for interrogation, which he apparently did.

Although Ziad did report for questioning, and was not then detained, his name was apparently put — perhaps through one of the careless bureaucratic mistakes that can cause such tragedy here? — without justification, on a wanted list.

This raises another big question: did one of the Border Police who chased Ziad to the spot of his death, who fired one or more of the shots that rained all around the site, remember Ziad from an earlier clash in a heated moment? Did one or more of the Border Police involved in this “incident” act — evidently without much fear of any possible consequences — on some remembered grudge from an earlier, unclear event?

The issues here are respect for the rule of “law” and the value of human life…

UPDATE: There was a rather vile and unprofessional story, later today, on YNet, confirming that Ziad [the story never used his name] had had a run-in with police about three months ago. “Sources who were close to the man, who was shot dead after the attack, told Ynet that the previous violent incident in which he was involved occurred at the Nablus Gate during police attempts to enforce order at Friday prayers and regulate the traffic of worshippers to Temple Mount mosques. Police sources confirmed the reports and said police recommended indicting the man following the previous incident but that the State Prosecutor’s Office decided against such a move. A Ynet inquiry suggests [suggests?] that the man had a criminal record which included four cases involving violence, aggravated assault and threats since 1998″. This was published here .

This, of course, does not constitute a “long criminal record”, as the YNet story headline said, nor does it constitute any kind of proof that Ziad was a “terrorist”, as the story blithely stated.

Even if — IF — any, or all, of this is true, it still does not justify this brutal killing.

UPDATE TWO: A friend of the family reports that Ziad’s run-in with the Border Police was on 19 March 19: “I believe he was praying or planning to pray in Jerusalem outside of al-Aqsa mosque with other men who were not allowed in for Friday prayers. I think they were praying at Damascus gate, but I am not sure. One of the police shoved Ziad to make him move back. He told the guy that if he wanted him to move, he should just say so and not touch him. The policeman shoved him again, and Ziad shoved back, at which point several of the police detained him and he was taken to the ‘Moscobiyya’ [Russian Compound] for questioning. They kept him a few hours and then released him, and I think they asked him to come in again the next day. That’s the whole story

One thought on “Amira Hass on killing of Ziad Julani + one question”

  1. I have a question, have you attempted to seek out other sources for some of the information being given by the family?This is my issue when stories like these are reported too many times people fail to or in some cases don’t bother even trying to get details from all sides involved. We do a diservice to ourselves and all those living in the middle of this conflict, which includes both sides, when we constantly rely on and go by one-sided accounts and reporting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *