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Video Shows Israeli Police Shooting Man With Knife As He Walks Away From Them

Police say they feared for their lives and fired warning shots before killing the suspect, but the footage seems to contradict those claims.

by Liz Fields
Nov 8 2014, 7:17pm

Photo by Noam Chen via Flickr

Israeli authorities said they were investigating the fatal dawn shooting of a 22-year-old Arab-Israeli man by security forces Saturday in the village of Kafr Kanna in northern Israel. 

Police said the man tried to attack them with a knife and they feared for their lives, but CCTV footage of the incident released later that day appeared to contradict those statements, indicating the officers may not have been in direct bodily harm as they alleged.

"With their lives in danger the officers fired at the suspect," police said in an initial statement released after the shooting, adding that the officers first fired a warning shot before gunning down Kheir a-Din Hamdan.

Video shows Hamdan approaching a police van and hitting it repeatedly with an object that appears to be a knife. He backs off as police exit the vehicle.

The officers then shoot Hamdan, who was allegedly trying to intervene in the attempted arrest of a relative, according to local media. Hamdan died a few hours later in the hospital.

In the wake of the shooting, dozens of youths protested on the outskirts of the village, setting tires alight and erecting barricades, according to AFP. Arab citizens of Israel — commonly known as Arab-Israelis — constitute roughly 20 percent of Israel's population of 8 million.

Amnesty says Israel's attacks on civilians during Gaza offensive amounted to 'War Crimes.' Read more here.

Footage reportedly showing the shooting by police of an Arab-Israeli man in Kafr Kana, Israel, was released on Saturday, November 9.

No official police statement was immediately issued following the release of the shooting footage Saturday, but authorities told the Jerusalem Post the matter was being investigated by the Justice Ministry.

The incident comes amid mounting Israeli-Palestinian tensions and days of unrest in East Jerusalem.

The weekend was also marred by a series of other demonstrations, including a night of clashes between firecracker-throwing youths and Israeli security forces, who used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd in East Jerusalem. Palestinian protesters throwing stones and Molotov cocktails also clashed with soldiers who fired rubber bullets around a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

Early this month, a number of Palestinians deliberately drove into Israeli pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing three and injuring more than 20.

It's déjà vu in Gaza all over again. Read more here.

The recent outburst of violence in the last two weeks was sparked by Israel's plans to expand its settlements in the Old City, and a dispute over rights to pray at the Temple Mount, Jerusalem's holiest site to both Muslims and Jews.

Late last month, a Palestinian gunman shot and wounded an ultraconservative rabbi who had been promoting Jewish presence at the site. Israel responded by blocking all access to the area for the first time in 14 years.

On Friday, the European Union's new head of foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, called for a Palestinian state and said that the area "cannot afford" another war.

"We need a Palestinian state — that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union," Mogherini said during a trip to Gaza, adding that Israeli settlements are an "obstacle" to peace.

Jewish group crowdfunds $90K for 'third temple' on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Read more here.

At a meeting with Mogherini on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the "fictitious claim that the root of the continuous conflict is this or that settlement."

"Jerusalem is our capital and as such is not a settlement," Netanyahu said.

Mogherini was set to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza on Saturday, but he cancelled the plans after a series of bomb attacks destroyed the homes of senior members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party on Friday. Fatah blamed its rival, Hamas, which commands the Gaza strip, for staging the bombings. 

Tensions escalate as bomb attacks target Fatah party members in the Gaza Strip. Read more here.

VICE News' John Beck contributed to this report.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter:@lianzifields

Photo via Flickr