A protester holds a portrait of Eyad Hallaq, on the right, a Palestinian with severe autism who was killed recently by Israeli border police officers, and George Floyd who was killed during a police arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Picture: Sebastian Scheiner/AP
A protester holds a portrait of Eyad Hallaq, on the right, a Palestinian with severe autism who was killed recently by Israeli border police officers, and George Floyd who was killed during a police arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Picture: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Justice for George Floyd! Justice for Eyad Hallaq!

By Shannon Ebrahim Time of article published Jun 25, 2020

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When the world convulsed in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, there was another convulsion - but one grossly under-reported - the horror of the cold-blooded murder by Israeli police of an autistic Palestinian man.

On the streets of Palestine, the demonstrators chanted “Justice for George Floyd, Justice for Eyad Hallaq”. Some demonstrators in capitals around the world picked up on what had happened to Hallaq in Jerusalem five days after Floyd's death and were it not for global outrage at Floyd's demise, Hallaq's death would have likely gone unnoticed.

That is because the killing of Palestinians by Israeli security forces has become such a regular occurrence that it has failed to invoke the international outrage that it should.

Hallaq was a 32-year-old man with the mental age of an eight-year-old child. He had been walking on King Faisal Street in the Old City of Jerusalem near his special needs school when he was shot by Israeli police and badly injured. As he screamed in agony lying behind his caregiver in a garbage room, the caregiver shouted to the police in Hebrew that he was disabled and begged the police to stop.

But one of the police stepped forward and from a very close range fired three bullets into Hallaq's midsection as he lay wounded on his back.

Just like Floyd, Hallaq had posed no danger to the police, and he was already shot and wounded, but shooting him a further three times at point-blank was nothing other than premeditated murder.

Had the murder been captured on video and gone viral, the world would have erupted in outrage.

Police then proceeded to raid Hallaq's home.

That is how Palestinians are treated, because in Israel Palestinian lives don't seem to matter.

In a futile attempt at damage control, Israeli officials tried to manufacture lies that Hallaq had been carrying a toy gun, but when that held no water, there were promises of an investigation. All Hallaq had had with him was a surgical face mask and rubber gloves that were required at his school.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz issued an apology, but of course, no action has been taken against the police, and there is little hope that the investigation will produce any justice for the victim and his family.

In the last 10 years, Israeli security forces have killed more than 3400 Palestinians, but only five have ever been convicted, which includes military and police. The family is not optimistic about the inquiry as in most investigations the Israeli establishment concludes that the security forces acted in self-defence.

The root of the problem in both Israel and the US is the racism and sense of impunity of the police.

Where the stories of Floyd and Hallaq converge, beyond their repugnance, is that countless American police officers are trained in Israel - by the very security forces that killed Hallaq.

* Shannon Ebrahim is Independent Media's group foreign editor.

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