Israel to investigate police shooting of disabled Arab man

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police shot and killed a disabled Arab man who appeared to be wielding a knife on Monday, drawing renewed accusations that law enforcement officers use excessive force against Arab suspects.

Relatives of Munir Anabtawi, 33, said he suffered from mental illness and they had called police for help. Police say Anabtawi tried to stab them before they opened fire. Authorities are investigating.

The family says he was shot five times in the ensuing confrontation.

“I told them, he is causing trouble, a little trouble,” Anabtawi’s mother, Itaf, told Channel 13 TV. “I had no idea they would shoot him and kill him.”

Israel’s Arab minority has long accused police of using excessive or unnecessary force that would not be used against Jewish suspects.

In one case last year, police fatally killed an autistic Palestinian man in the Old City of Jerusalem, apparently after wrongly identifying him as an attacker. Prosecutors have recommended filing charges of reckless manslaughter against the policeman who killed the young man. Defense Minister Benny Gantz apologized for the incident.

In Monday’s incident, police said they responded to a report of a man acting erratically in the northern city of Haifa. In a statement, they said the man tried to stab them and lightly wounded one officer. The man was shot, taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

The family told a different story. Anabtawi’s mother told Channel 13 that she called police to take him to the hospital because he didn’t feel well.

His aunt, Siam, said the police weren’t his target. “He wanted to kill himself with the knife, not the police,” she said, adding that he was shot five times in the midsection. “They have guns. (Why not) shoot him in the leg? Shoot him in the hand.”

In a statement on Facebook, the family said it watched videos of the incident and also saw the body in the hospital. The video, in which Anabtawi appears to be holding a knife as he scuffles with an officer. The video does not tell the whole story, according to the family’s post.

It said police are supposed to be trained to halt suspects without killing them. “Therefore, an in-depth and professional investigation is needed so cases like these, which unfortunately recur with Arab suspects, don’t happen again,” it said.