Columns

No, George Floyd and Palestinian Eyad Hallaq Are Not the Same

Israeli border police officers stand next to the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City Thursday, July 27, 2017. Thousands of Muslims flocked to a major Jerusalem shrine Thursday for the first organized prayers at the site in nearly two weeks, following Israel's removal of security devices installed after a deadly attack. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

“Killing of Palestinian Man With Autism Draws Floyd Parallel” is the headline — in different variants — of an Associated Press report that has been picked up by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and scores of other outlets. The article is a crude hit-job on Israel that tries to paint it in the same hues in which the mainstream media views America — a country that is racist and cruel.

On Saturday, May 30, Eyad Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian man with autism, was walking near an entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem known as the Lions’ Gate — which happens to be a terror flashpoint. Two Israeli police officers who saw him thought he was acting suspiciously, trying to hide from them, and holding a blunt object. In the Times of Israel’s account, they then

called on him to stop but he ran away. The officers reported over their radio network that they had encountered “a terrorist with a firearm” and gave chase. Two paramilitary Border Police officers joined the pursuit and the more senior of the two fired a shot at Hallaq that missed….

Hallaq then sought refuge in the direction of a garbage room located at the end of an alley…. The more junior of the [Border Police officers] fired at Hallaq again, hitting him in the leg, which caused him to fall over. At that point, said the senior police officer, he shouted “Cease fire!” but his companion, who thought he saw Hallaq reaching to pull something from his pants, fired two more shots, killing him.

Yes, it is a sad story. The “blunt object” was apparently a cell phone, Hallaq apparently did not understand what was happening, and he fled. Both Border Police officers are under investigation and the one who fired the fatal shots is under house arrest.

Objectively speaking, though, it is hard to see a “Floyd parallel” here: shooting someone in a situation of alarm and uncertainty near a terror flashpoint, whether or not it was excusable under the circumstances, is not the same as pressing your knee on a subdued suspect’s neck for over eight minutes. But AP loves the analogy and goes with it.

AP quotes a columnist for Israel’s far-left Haaretz daily — which has a tiny readership within Israel — who writes: “Good God, they executed him.” It also quotes a spokesman for B’Tselem — a heavily European-funded, far-left Israeli “human rights” organization that accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “war crimes” — who says: “Existing law enforcement mechanisms are designed to protect the perpetrators of this violence — not their victims.”

For recent cases of Israeli security personnel who, under “existing law enforcement mechanisms,” were penalized for what was ruled to be trigger-happy, brutal, or negligent behavior, see here, here, here, here, here, and here.

But it is only near the very end of the 1300-word report that AP gets around to mentioning a former Israeli Border Police commander who

said policing Arab neighborhoods was difficult and complicated.

He said officers are on heightened alert in places like the Old City because the area has seen numerous Palestinian stabbings and shootings there over the years.

Well, here’s a timeline I’ve compiled of Palestinian terror attacks over the past half-decade at the Lions’ Gate alone — that is, the place where the officers who spotted and pursued Eyad Hallaq were stationed:

October 3, 2015 — Two men stabbed to death, woman and two-year-old boy wounded.

October 7, 2015 — Man stabbed and wounded.

October 12, 2015 — Stabbing attempt foiled.

December 16, 2016 — Police officer stabbed and wounded.

March 13, 2017 — Two police officers stabbed and wounded.

July 14, 2017 — Two police officers killed and a third wounded in a shooting attack.

March 18, 2018 — Man stabbed to death.

August 17, 2018 — Stabbing attempt foiled.

February 6, 2020 — Police officer wounded in a shooting attack.

February 22, 2020 — Woman wounded in a stabbing attack.

Clearly, the police officers involved in the Eyad Hallaq incident were doing ultra-dangerous work requiring split-second decisions. That does not mean they necessarily acted professionally and properly throughout the incident — as mentioned, that’s under investigation. AP, though — not satisfied with the storm of wild, false accusations against the U.S. police forces and society sparked by the George Floyd affair — wants to sic the furies on Israel, too.

And that’s the only real connection between the two cases.

P. David Hornik, a longtime American immigrant in Israel, is a freelance writer, translator, and copyeditor living in Beersheva. In addition to PJ Media his work has appeared in FrontPage Magazine, National Review, New English Review, American Spectator, American Thinker, The Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, and elsewhere. Among his books are Choosing Life in Israel and the novel Beside the Still Waters, which was published by Adelaide Books in 2019.