Aerial footage, shot by a police helicopter, of the alleged car ramming attack in Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday appears to show police firing at the vehicle of Yacoub Abu al Kiyan, 50, before his vehicle accelerates rapidly. The car eventually would hit and kill 1st Sgt. Erez Levi and injure several other officers.
Earlier in the day police said that they only fired once the ramming attack occurred. While residents and activists in Umm al-Hiran said police fired on the vehicle before and then al Kiyan lost control causing the vehicle to accelerate.
Following the release of the video, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said police called on the vehicle to stop and fired in the air a warning shot, and only fired when the vehicle did not stop.
Police were in the village of around 400 people on Wednesday to carry out housing demolition orders as the village is considered illegal by the Israeli government and the area is slated to be replaced with a new Jewish community called Hiran.
Footage emerges of deadly suspected ramming attack in Negev
In a statement police said the alleged attacker “accelerated his car towards the officers to carry out a ramming attack.” Police responded by shooting dead the alleged attacker.
Police are investigating the driver, named as Yacoub Abu al Kiyan, 50, who is reportedly a well-known school teacher and resident of Umm al-Hiran. Police said that Kiyan is a member of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement.
In additional clashes with police forces, Joint List MK Ayman Odeh sustained head injures. Odeh was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Police contend that he was hit with a rock by protestors, while multiple accounts at the scene say Odeh was struck with a sponge-tipped bullet.
Speaking in front of the Soroka Medical Center with a bandaged head and blood-stained shirt, Odeh lambasted police actions and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet Odeh ended with a positive tone, “In the Negev there is room for everyone, both Jews and Arabs.”
Meanwhile Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accused Israeli-Arab Knesset members who participated in the protests of causing the police officer’s death. “I wish to say – especially now – to Ayman Odeh and to the rest of the Joint List that came [to Umm al-Hiran] this morning to enflame the situation: His blood is on your hands.”
"This is a severe statement, I know. But it is not severe as your acts today. You are a disgrace for the state of Israel."
The village is at the center of long contested legal battle and symbol for the conflict over Beduin housing in the Negev. It is the second time residents are being forced to relocate. In 1956, they were moved under military order and resettled by the IDF in their current location after being evicted from the land on which they were living in 1948. But they were never given a title to the land.
A 2015 Supreme Court ruling found that the land belongs to the state and rejected a petition by residents against their eviction. Thus clearing the way for a government to demolish the village and build a Jewish town on the land. Residents of Umm al-Hiran have been offered 800-meter plots of land and in the nearby Umm al-Hiran residents stress that they need land to maintain their agricultural way of life, including sheep herding and Hura residents have made clear that they don’t want them to move in. Furthermore the residents say they have not received any written guarantees that their living conditions there would be anything close to what they currently have.