JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Wednesday released a video of a Palestinian vehicle slamming into a West Bank checkpoint and Israeli security forces shooting and killing the driver.
The release of the security-camera footage appeared to be aimed at bolstering police claims that the car-ramming on Tuesday was an attack. The man's family has said he had no reason to try to harm Israeli security forces.
The video shows the vehicle slowly approaching the checkpoint before turning suddenly and speeding up as it rams into a small booth, sending a female officer flying through the air. The man, whose face and body are blurred, gets out of the car and takes a few steps before he is shot. It's unclear if he had anything in his hands.
A police statement said the man, identified as Ahmed Erekat, waited for an opportune moment and “wildly plunged” the vehicle into the forces at the scene. It said the female officer was lightly wounded and has been released from the hospital.
Erekat's family has disputed the police account, saying that he was preparing to celebrate his sister's wedding Tuesday and that he himself was to be married next week. They said he owned a business and had no reason to carry out an attack.
Hiba Erekat, the man's cousin, said the family was baffled by the video.
“We know Ahmed. He had no reason to commit suicide. He was on good terms with his fiancee, his family and people in his town," she said. “We are wondering if he had any personal problems and wanted to escape.”
Noura Erakat, another cousin and a human rights attorney, denied the video showed evidence of an attack. In a Twitter thread, she said it might have been an accident and questioned why police killed him after he exited the vehicle.
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and veteran peace negotiator, is also a relative of the deceased. He cast doubt on the Israeli claims about the footage and called for an international investigation.
In recent years, Israel has seen car-ramming attacks, shootings and stabbings carried out mostly by lone Palestinian attackers with no apparent links to armed groups.
Palestinians and human rights groups have frequently accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force, and in some cases of opening fire at cars that merely lost control. They have also accused Israeli forces of using lethal force when their lives were not in danger and when they could have arrested suspects.
Late last month, Israeli police shot dead an autistic Palestinian man outside Jerusalem's Old City after mistaking him for an attacker. The shooting drew comparisons to the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and prompted a series of small demonstrations against police violence toward Palestinians.