At about 3:00 A.M. on 13 July2016, Border Police officers opened fire at a car in the center of the town a-Ram in the Al-Quds District during policing operations in the area by the Israeli military and the Border Police. Anwar a-Salaimeh, who was driving the car, was hit and killed by the gunfire, and one of the two passengers in the car was injured. Most of the media was quick to accept the official version of events, reporting that the Border Police officers had feared that the driver was attempting to run them over and responded by opening fire. B’Tselem’s investigation, based on eyewitness testimony and statements by the passengers in the car – later confirmed by security camera footage – raises serious concern that the lethal gunfire was entirely unjustified.
According to the investigation, security forces entered the a-Ram area at about 2:00 A.M. Several Border Police officers took up position on the northern side of the main road in the town, behind a car parked at right angles to the sidewalk. The officers did not erect a roadblock or any other means of slowing down the traffic on the road. At about 3:00 A.M., Anwar a-Salaimeh arrived on the street. He was driving a car and had two friends as passengers. Salaimeh was driving along the main road in the town from west to east, in the lane where the officers had taken up position. The car was not traveling at an unusual speed, given that the road was completely empty and that it was the middle of the night, with no traffic on the streets of a-Ram.
As the car neared the spot where the Border Police were, one officer opened fire at it. The shooting continued even after the car passed, though it did not swerve at all from its lane. Salaimeh was killed by the gunfire, and one of the passengers, Fares a-Riashiq, was injured. An eyewitness told B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad that the Border Police officers called out to the car to stop before they opened fire, but did so when it was no more than 20 meters or so away, too close for their call to be effective. Moreover, a-Riashiq, the passenger injured in the shooting, told B’Tselem’s researcher that they had not even noticed the officers until they opened fire.
After the shooting the officers arrested the car’s two passengers. They were interrogated, taken that day to the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court for remand in custody where the judge extended their remand by one day. They were released by the police the next day, with their agreement, to a five-day house arrest after which they were released with no restrictions. Att. ‘Abaullah Zayed, legal counsel for the a-Salaimeh family, has applied to the investigative authorities demanding that the circumstances of a-Salaimeh’s death be investigated.
This is the latest in a long series of similar incidents since October 2015 in which Israeli security forces use lethal weapons in unjustified circumstances – be it that they are not in real danger, or because the danger could be averted by less lethal means. Senior military and political officials have provided sweeping support for this policy.