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Israeli Justice Ministry drops probe after report that contractor behind Qalandiya killings

May 1, 2016 10:36 P.M. (Updated: May 2, 2016 3:01 P.M.)
An Israeli soldier stands guard at the Qalandiya checkpoint as thousands of Palestinians wait to cross from the West Bank to Jerusalem (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli who shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her teenage brother at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday was a private security contractor, not a member of the police forces, Israeli media revealed on Sunday.

The Israeli Justice Ministry released a report on Sunday, which revealed that Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her brother Ibrahim, 16, had been shot and killed by a privately contracted security guard, and not a police officer as had previously been thought, Israeli Channel 10 reported, noting that the police officer only fired warning shots into the air.

As a result, newspaper Haaretz wrote, the Justice Ministry’s police investigation unit won’t be opening a probe into the killings.

It remains unclear if and by whom a further probe will be conducted.

The revelation comes as serious questions have arisen over Israeli forces’ version of the events that led to the death of Abu Ismail and her younger brother earlier this week.

The contractor shot and killed the siblings after Israeli forces said that Abu Ismail, who was five months pregnant, threw a knife in the direction of Israeli forces at the Qalandiya military checkpoint.

However, witnesses at the scene said the two siblings posed no threat at the time the Israeli officer killed them, as they mistakenly entered the wrong part of the checkpoint and did not understand Israeli soldiers speaking to them in Hebrew.

Israeli police has so far refused to release security camera footage of the Qalandiya shooting, despite having done so in past cases under investigation.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not available for comment on Sunday.

Maram and Ibrahim Abu Ismail are among more than 200 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces or settlers since October, the majority during alleged or attempted small-scale attacks that have left nearly 30 Israelis dead.

UN investigations have shown that, in a number of instances since the unrest began, Israeli forces have implemented a policy of extrajudicial execution, shooting dead Palestinians who did not present imminent threat at the time of their death.
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