- Ali Fannizadeh
Iyad Hallack, Say his name
Protests and other various calls for justice have come about in Israel, Palestine, and abroad since the death of a 32-year-old handicapped Palestinian man named Iyad Hallak on the 6th of June.
The Police opened fire on him at the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, claiming that he was carrying a weapon.
Hundreds of people demonstrated Tuesday evening in several Israeli and Palestinian cities against police violence. In Jerusalem, protesters blocked the tram that runs through the center of the town. The police intervened and arrested four people. Rallies also took place in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, etc..
Many protesters have made the connection between the death of Georges Floyd, a defenceless black man killed during an arrest by the police in Minneapolis, and that of Iyad Hallak, killed by the police in Jerusalem. Some also mention Solomon Teka, an 18 year old Jew of Ethiopian origin, who was also unjustly killed by Israeli police last summer.
Solomon Teka’s family members and close friends at his funeral
On social networks, the figures of George Floyd and Iyad Hallak have been associated with each other. The hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter is being widely used.
"The Israeli police are no less brutal or racist than the United States police," wrote Israeli columnist Gideon Levy in the daily Haaretz.
An image shared on various Social networks by PIPD, an independent, non-governmental organization with the goal of sharing stories from Palestine to the whole world
Iyad Hallak was killed as he was walking to his specialized institution, located in the old city of Jerusalem. He walked the same path every morning. Despite being 32, he had a mental age of eight due to his autism, and many of his relatives described him as very fearful. Along the way to his specialized institution, he kept in touch with his parents on his cell phone.
It is this same telephone that the police stationed at the entrance of the old town mistook for a weapon. They yelled at Iyad to stop. Panicked, he started to run. The police opened fire during the chase, which ended behind a garbage bin which Iyad had tried to use for shelter. Iyad's caregiver who was at the scene, shouted to the police that he was a disabled person and pleaded for them not to shoot, they fired seven times.
Iyad enjoyed gardening and had recently learnt to cook at his specialized institution
"The policeman who did this must have what he deserves, he must be imprisoned," said Iyad's sister, who was quoted by the Israel Times. "But I know they won't do anything to him, because Iyad was a Palestinian."
The UN human rights office expresses the same doubt: “There are very low levels of accountability for the use of force by Israeli security forces against Palestinians, with a handful of indictments in relation to hundreds of killings over the past five years.“
Iyads killing has wounded the Palestinian and Israeli communities massively but has left an even bigger scar on his family. “I can’t stop crying over him, and I don’t know what my mother will do without him” expressed Iyad’s sister, Diana. “They would sit for hours in his room, playing and eating and laughing together every day. They took him from her. They took her joy and left her with great sorrow and a broken heart. They left her with a wound that will never heal until the day she dies.”
Iyad’s mother bearing a picture of her son on her smartphone
Since this tragic killing, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have marched side by side against the injustice many have to face everyday, with a dream of one day being able to peacefully live together.
Nevertheless, this event is yet another stark reminder that injustice is prevalent everywhere in the world and that our silence to these injustices is what fuels these racist murders.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
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Toi, et al. “Family of East Jerusalem Man Killed by Cops: We Don't Believe He'll Get Justice.” The Times of Israel, 2 June 2020, www.timesofisrael.com/family-of-east-jerusalem-man-killed-by-cops-we-dont-believe-hell-get-justice/.
Holmes, Oliver. “'Palestinian Lives Matter': Israeli Police Killing of Autistic Man Draws US Comparison.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 June 2020, www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/01/palestinian-lives-matter-israeli-police-killing-of-autistic-man-draws-us-comparison.
Deutsche Welle. “Fatal Police Shooting of Autistic Palestinian Sparks Outrage: DW: 08.06.2020.” DW.COM, www.dw.com/en/fatal-police-shooting-of-autistic-palestinian-sparks-outrage/a-53723002.
Arraf, Suha, et al. “'Iyad Was the Flower of the Family. They Cut Him down Too Early'.” +972 Magazine, 8 June 2020, www.972mag.com/iyad-al-hallaq-family/.
Fontaine, Daniel. “‘Les Vies Palestiniennes Comptent’ : Appels à La Justice Après La Bavure Policière à Jérusalem.” RTBF Info, 3 June 2020, www.rtbf.be/info/monde/detail_les-vies-palestiniennes-comptent-appels-a-la-justice-apres-la-bavure-policiere-a-jerusalem?id=10514683.
Sources for images:
“CAMPAIGN: Justice For Eyad Action Required.” EveryAction, https://secure.everyaction.com/AMed5_6g90KOYwuC3T2Krg2
“Cries of 'Black Lives Matter' in Israel after Officer Fatally Shoots Unarmed Young Man of Ethiopian Origin.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 2 July 2019, www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-israel-solomon-teka-ethiopian-20190702-story.html.
ThePIPD. “Eyad and George Were Victims of Similar Systems of Supremacy and Oppression. They Must Be Dismantled.Palestinian Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter.It Is Time for Justice. Pic.twitter.com/EoE0opIKiR.” Twitter, Twitter, 31 May 2020, twitter.com/ThePIPD/status/1267121540753129472.
Toi, et al. “Six Held in Jerusalem Protest against Killing of Autistic Palestinian Man.” The Times of Israel, 10 June 2020, www.timesofisrael.com/six-held-in-jerusalem-protest-against-killing-of-autistic-palestinian-man/.