Last Friday afternoon, 8 March 2002, 22-year-old Mahmoud Salah from Beit Wazan near Nablus was shot in the head by Israeli police in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighborhood in occupied east Jerusalem. After being shot the young man was left to bleed to death. The press (the Arabic electronic page of the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot) reported that police officers at the scene had acted under direct instructions of Jerusalem Police chief Mickey Levy.
In order to justify the killing, Israeli police sources claimed that Mahmoud Salah had resisted arrest and stopped a sapper from defusing explosives. In its Arabic internet edition, Yediot Ahronot reported as follows:
Upon arrival of police officers including police chief Mickey Levy, and when the sapper stated that he could not control the Palestinian and that there was a threat that an explosive device might blow up, Mickey Levy ordered the killing of the Palestinian. A police officer drew his gun and shot the Palestinian in the head at close range. A high-ranking police officer said that the killing was unavoidable "since there was a threat to the police officers".
However, accounts by eyewitnesses contradict the version given by the Israeli police. According to France Press, 12 Palestinians witnessed the incident from their homes. They asserted that Mahmoud Salah was handcuffed when he was killed. An eyewitness reported to LAW as follows:
On Friday, 8 March 2002, at 4 p.m., I heard noises outside the building where I live, which is Project 3 of the Nusseibeh Buildings in Beit Hanina. I looked out of the window that overlooks the road in front of the building; the road is only about 8 meters away. I saw how a military jeep stopped the two men. One of them was a guy I know; his name is Randy Audi; he is from Beit Hanina. I did not know the other man but I later learnt that his name was Mahmoud Salah.
Randy was taken at 4.15 p.m. in a military jeep to an unknown destination. Mahmoud was forced to lie flat on his face and had his hands cuffed behind his back. The special [police] unit tore down Mahmoud's clothes. He was wearing a light navy blue jacket and a yellow shirt and a dark yellow cotton pair of pants.
I didn't see any bags with Mahmoud as Israelis claim. I heard how he was questioned about his name and the place of residence. I understood that he was from Nablus and that his name was Mahmoud. There were three members of the special [police] unit surrounding the guy on the ground; they were dressed in dark gray. One of them placed his foot on the guy's head and another was holding his feet and a third was sitting on his knees pointing a gun at him from a distance of approximately 1.5 -2 meters.
At around 4.30 p.m., the third member shot the guy eight or nine times in the head. Then they left the place and left the guy bleeding. The guy was trying to move and to stand up. At around 5.15 p.m. he stopped moving.
At around 5.20 p.m. Israeli police brought a robot, which drew a black belt. The strange thing is that I did not see that belt when the police tore down the guy's clothes before he was killed.
I would like to point out that the soldiers imposed a curfew on the neighborhood and said several times that [people] must not look out of the windows. However, we kept looking out of the windows. When the corps was turned, the right side of the head was open due to the shots. The victim's fingerprints were then taken and photos of the corps were taken. An Israeli ambulance took the victim away from the scene of the incident.