Munir Anabtawi’s mother called the Israeli police asking them if they could help take her son to the hospital, but instead, they shot him multiple times.
The Israeli police officer who killed a mentally ill Palestinian man in the Wadi Nisnas neighbourhood of Haifa, was released after being questioned, Ynetnews reported on Tuesday. He was also reportedly forbidden from talking about the details of the incident.
The incident happened two days ago when the mother of 33- year-old Munir Anabtawi sought the police’s help in admitting her son to hospital. She was supposed to call the ambulance but seemingly dialled the police by mistake. Her son was having a nervous breakdown, which was triggered after she refused to give him money for cigarettes.
As the police showed up at the scene, they shot him dead.
"Police killed my son in cold blood instead of helping him. They interrogated me without informing me of the death of my son," Itaf Anabtawi told Arab48 News Agency. "He posed no threat nor had he been violent before"
The Israeli police claimed that Munir ran towards them with a knife and inflicted minor injuries to a police officer, a claim the victim’s family denies, saying it doesn’t hold up, nor does it justify the killing.
Speaking to Channel 13, Munir’s aunt says he attempted to cut himself with the knife, but had not targeted the police.
“They have guns. (Why not) shoot him in the leg? Shoot him in the hand,” she added.
The victim’s brother, Munir Anabtawi, told the media that the police’s behaviour was “cowardly” as they “assassinated” him instead of dealing with the situation as it should have been.
“They are not professional enough to deal with the problem,” Amir Anabtawi said. “Why five bullets? Fine, give him one. He’s down. But one, and another, and another and another. They ‘neutralised’ him,” he said sarcastically.
Palestinian citizens, that makeup 20 percent of the Israeli population, often complain about racial discrimination and excessive force. Many doubt that Munir became a victim of racism against the Palestinian citizens, as the police didn’t try to solve the issue with a non-lethal force first.
Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers in the parliament strongly reacted to the incident. Ayman Odeh, head of Joint List slammed the incident, calling it a “continuation of aggressive treatment” towards its Palestinian citizens.
“The police see Arab citizens as enemies, not equal citizens,” he said in a statement.
Following the outcry by the family and public, Mossawa, an advocacy centre for Arab Citizens in Israel said they issued an official letter to Manash in order to investigate the incident, but it’s unclear if Israeli police are willing to conduct a further one.
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, who oversees Israel’s police, stated on Tuesday that he was backing the officer who killed Munir, appreciating him for “acting as expected of him.”
That’s a sentiment with which Israel’s Psychiatric Association disagrees.
“It would have been possible to prevent unnecessary loss of life that stems only from lack of knowledge and/or appropriate training,” the Association said in a statement.
Sending the statement to Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai on Tuesday, the group of experts said he should “immediately establish training arrangements and intervention teams to treat cases involving [populations with] psychiatric [disorders].”