MEDICS EVACUATE MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint List) during a clash between riot police and Arab citizens in Umm al-Hiran.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan wrote to Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday, demanding he open a criminal investigation against Joint List MKs Ayman Odeh, Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi.
Erdan said in the letter that the legislators’ incitement sparked the violence in the Negev village of Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday that led to the death of police officer Erez Levi.
Levi was killed when a Beduin resident drove into a crowd of police officers who were there to carry out the court-ordered demolition of 10 illegally built homes.
Police say the driver ignored orders to stop, and so officers shot and killed him.
Residents and Beduin rights activists say the driver was first shot, and then drove into the officers when he lost control of the vehicle.
“The terrorist attack in which Sr.-St.-Sgt.-Maj. Levi died did not happen in a vacuum, and had direct connection to earlier events,” Erdan wrote. “It happened after a long period of despicable, systematic and ongoing incitement that was led by public representatives – members of Knesset.
“Remarks made by those lawmakers show their clear motive to incite the locals [of Umm al-Hiran, an unrecognized village located near Beersheba] and encourage them to commit murder. It can be seen in a video from 2015, in which MK Zahalka talks to the people of the village about the upcoming [house] demolitions: ‘If blood will spill, so be it...’ “Zahalka also says, ‘They should know that we, the Palestinian people, are crazy on this matter. We are willing to die and not be evacuated. There will be no second nakba in the Negev.”
Erdan cites a supposed quote from Odeh in his letter: “After him [Zahalka], Odeh said at the same event that they are willing to go all the way on this issue. ‘We have reached a breaking point,’ Odeh says, ‘we will never accept this situation.’” “I have no doubt that the death of Sr.-St.-Sgt.-Maj. Levi is a direct result of the atmosphere that these inciting MKs created, and they should suffer the consequences,” Erdan concluded. “We cannot bring Levi back to life, but determined action regarding these inciters might prevent the next murder.”
Odeh is chairman of both the Joint List and of Hadash, one of the four parties that make up the List. He responded to the letter by saying that the Arab public demands an investigation on its behalf.
“Minister Gilad Erdan is a serial inciter and a pathological liar,” Odeh said. “We are the ones who already demanded yesterday a state commission [of inquiry into what happened in the Beduin village on Wednesday].
We have nothing to hide. We demand a definitive investigation of the chain of events and especially of the brutal way the police acted in the violent evacuation of Umm al-Hiran residents.
“Someone should be accounted for the bloodshed in Umm al-Hiran. It should be the people who use the police forces for their political needs and to incite.”
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