Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz apologized on Sunday for Israeli police’s shooting to death an unarmed, autistic Palestinian man in East Jerusalem on Saturday.
Gantz, who is also the leader of the centrist Blue and White party and Israel’s “alternate” prime minister under a unity government deal, made the remark during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
Video footage showed him seating alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who made no remarks related to the deadly shooting.
“We are really sorry about the incident in which Iyad Halak was shot dead and we share in the family’s grief,” Gantz said, adding that “this matter will be investigated quickly and conclusions will be reached.”
The incident took place near the Lions’ Gate in East Jerusalem‘s Old City.
The police issued a statement, saying that Halak carried “a suspicious object that looked like a pistol.” Police officers on patrol “called upon him to stop and begun to chase after him on foot, during which they also opened fire at him.”
The object was Halak’s mobile phone, according to the Hebrew-language Ha’aretz newspaper.
Halak, 32, lived in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz in East Jerusalem. His family said that Halak, diagnosed with autism, was on his way to an institution for people with special needs when the incident happened.
His funeral is scheduled to take place later on Sunday.
Following the shooting, police officers involved were questioned by the Department of Internal Police Investigation.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that a gag order has been issued on the incident, banning the publishing of information on the identity of the policemen involved and further details of the case.
Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups condemned the shooting. On Saturday night, dozens of Israelis and Palestinians rallied in Jerusalem in a joint call against police violence.