Undocumented shooting of alleged terrorist in Jerusalem raises doubts about police transparency

Why wasn't Saturday's attack recorded on the body cameras of the involved officers? Is the police's version the truth or a cover-up for a sticky situation? While the police claim that the shooting was in an area not covered by security cameras, Arab lawmakers call the incident a 'premeditated murder'

Einav Halabi, Liran Tamari, Ilana Curiel|
The morning after a deadly encounter in Jerusalem, many questions remain unanswered. According to the Israel Police, 26-year-old Mohammed Elasibi, a resident of the southern Bedouin town of Hura, grabbed the gun of a police officer and fired twice before being shot dead. Although the police have labeled this a terror attack, several loose ends have emerged that warrant further investigation.
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Why wasn't Saturday's attack recorded on the body cameras of the involved officers? Is the police's version the truth or a cover-up for a sticky situation? How did Elasibi manage to grab a gun from an officer's belt, and go on to fire two bullets at the cops?
Several hours after the shooting, the police released a video that overlooks the Old City's Chain Gate—where the event took place—showing the closed gate which allegedly blocked the view of what went down.
While the police claim that the shooting was in an area not covered by security cameras, Arab politicians are rebutting the police's version, claiming that the incident was a "premeditated murder."
Following the shooting, the head of the Islamist Ra’am party Mansour Abbas demanded the immediate release of the footage. “I don’t believe the police version that there is no footage from the security cameras. There is an attempt to cover up and hide the truth.”
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מוחמד אלעסיבי, סוכת האבלים, וזירת האירוע
מוחמד אלעסיבי, סוכת האבלים, וזירת האירוע
The mourning tent at Elasibi's home, Mohammed Elasibi, security cameras in Jerusalem's Old City
(Photo: Roee Idan)
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted that, “According to the eyewitnesses it was a cold-blooded murder, and the police are lying and smearing.”
In light of the dispute, the High Follow‑Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, an extra-parliamentary umbrella organization that represents Arab citizens at the national level, called a general strike on Sunday, which applies to Arab businesses, municipalities, and educational institutions.
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זירת הירי בעיר העתיקה
זירת הירי בעיר העתיקה
The scene of the shooting in Jerusalem's Old City
(Photo: Reuters)
Aside from the Arab population, many Israeli sectors are also raising eyebrows. Jerusalem, especially the Old City, is known as a hotbed of terrorist activity and is consequently awash with security cameras on every corner.
Former senior police officials said Saturday it seemed unlikely that there was no footage of the deadly shooting, and Channel 13 news described the police's claim as “puzzling.”
The police said that "not every spot in the Old City is equipped with security cameras," explaining that "the terror attack did not take place on the outer part of the Chain Gate, which is well documented, but rather on the inside and in a blind spot."
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מצלמות אבטחה באזור אירוע הירי בעיר העתיקה
מצלמות אבטחה באזור אירוע הירי בעיר העתיקה
Security cameras near the site of the shooting, in Jerusalem's Old City
Regarding Elasibi succeeding to grab the weapon, the officer to whom the gun belonged said that "the attacker turned to me, grabbed my gun and managed to fire a few bullets toward [Border Police] officers. I managed to subdue him within seconds, get the weapon out of his hands, and neutralize him along with the second policeman with me.”
"I was sure that he intended on shooting all the officers on site because he directed [the gun] toward the female officers and fired at them, but fortunately did not manage to hit anyone," he added.
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זירת ניסיון חטיפת הנשק בעיר העתיקה בירושלים
זירת ניסיון חטיפת הנשק בעיר העתיקה בירושלים
The scene of the shooting in Jerusalem's Old City
(Photo: Israel Police)
Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman backed this narrative and said that "the terrorist charged at the policeman, who fought the terrorist with his bare hands. He managed to draw the policeman's weapon and fire at two Border Police officers."
Elasibi’s family had called for the release of video footage of the shooting, claiming that "we know that every meter in the alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem is recorded and the police are supposed to be equipped with cameras."
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