Beduin driver autopsy may disprove terrorist claim

Thousands in Arara protest • Opposition MKs claim police cover-up.

January 22, 2017 06:20

Aerial footage emerges of deadly suspected ramming attack in Negev

Aerial footage emerges of deadly suspected ramming attack in Negev


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The Beduin man who was shot and killed by police when his car killed police Sr.-St.-Sgt.- Maj. Erez Levi in Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday did not receive potentially life-saving treatment, according to an autopsy conducted by the L. Greenberg Institute for Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir.

Yacoub Abu al-Kaeean, 47, was wounded by a bullet to his chest, but also was shot in his right knee. It is speculated that the knee wound may have caused him to floor the accelerator and lose control of the vehicle.

The autopsy result, which was reported by Channel 10, casts doubt on police claims that Abu al-Kaeean was committing a ramming attack when his vehicle approached a group of officers before dawn on Wednesday and then quickly accelerated after police fired a number of shots, running down Levi, 34, and injuring several others.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the initial gunfire was warning shots fired by officers in an attempt to have Abu al-Kaeean stop the vehicle.

However, residents of Umm al-Hiran, located near Beersheba, and Beduin rights activists who witnessed the event contradicted police reports, telling The Jerusalem Post that police fired at Abu al-Kaeean before the car accelerated. The residents contend that Abu al-Kaeean lost control of his vehicle due to police gunfire.

A ballistic report is expected to be completed this week and together with aerial footage of the incident, could help the Police Internal Investigations Department, which has opened a probe into the incident, decipher at what time and with which officer’s gun Abu al-Kaeean’s knee was shot.

Police entered Umm al-Hiran, population around 400, on Wednesday to evict residents and demolish around 10 illegally constructed homes to make way for a Jewish town to be built there.

Because Abu al-Kaeean suffered a bullet wound to his chest, a source at the L. Greenberg Institute speculated that he may have survived if he were treated in the field before he bled to death.

A police source who spoke with the Post declined to comment on the ongoing police investigation of the incident and did not say how long it took for a Magen David Adom ambulance to arrive at the scene.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan have all said that Abu al-Kaeean was carrying out a ramming attack.

Ahmad Abu al-Kaeean, Yacoub’s brother, said in response to the autopsy findings: “They murdered him not once but several times. They murdered him when they shot him and they murdered him when they left him in the car bleeding, and they murdered him when they said he deliberately drove the car [into the police officers].

“The minister of police [Erdan] did a very grave thing when he said my brother belongs to Islamic State. He was an educator for 25 years."

"It’s patently false. It’s a racist policy designed to attack an entire public. The body [of officers] that is supposed to protect people are the ones who are shooting at us. My brother never was in any such organization. Everything they have said about him is stupid."

"They murdered him in cold blood and they are covering for their lies. How could he know my brother was in ISIS? It’s idiotic. They murder you and then say you are in ISIS to cover for their failures.”

Speaking at Levi’s funeral in Yavne on Wednesday, Alsheich said he has no doubt that police acted properly. “They immediately charged and took out the terrorist, after which they carried on with their mission until it was finished,” he said.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Arara, in the Triangle region near Kfar Saba, on Saturday protesting home demolitions in Israeli-Arab towns, demanding a inquiry into the Umm al-Hiran events and the release of Abu al-Kaeean’s body to his family. This came as some opposition MKs slammed the Umm al-Hiran incident as a “police cover- up.”

“We came here today, over 10,000 people, with the absolute demand for a commission of inquiry [into the Umm al-Hiran incident] that would expose the mask of interests and lies of Netanyahu, Erdan and police,” said Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, who participated in the Arara protest.

“The police are responsible for the bloodshed in Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday, and they must immediately release the body of Yacoub Abu al-Kaeean,” Odeh said, calling for Erdan’s immediate resignation.

Additional protests also took place over the weekend throughout Israeli-Arab cities and towns.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On called for a commission of inquiry into the events at Umm al-Hiran and blasted police for a “culture of lies and cover-ups. It seems that the police are still tainted by the same culture of lies and cover-ups that the Or Commission spoke of in the events of October 2000,” Gal-On said. “If the police fired without justification on Yacoub Abu al-Kaeean, they caused the death of the policeman – then they tried to cover-up this horrible screw-up in one of the most cruel ways: They sold the public the lie that Abu al-Kaeean is a terrorist.”

During the riots of October 2000 in the North, police killed 12 Arab citizens and a Palestinian.

MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) called for an independent commission of inquiry into government and police actions in the Umm al-Hiran affair. “At the beginning of this unfortunate incident it was quite obvious that the police and the public security minister are rushing their statements and are not taking into consideration that they really don’t know all the circumstances yet. So for them to categorically label this a terrorist attack from the very beginning was way too soon.

We still don’t know. Sometimes it takes some time to understand and analyze. It seems that the statements of top policemen, Roni Alsheich and others, are influenced by politics, and this is very unfortunate because the citizens of Israel need to know they can trust the police.

“If it will be proven that Abu al-Khaeean died bleeding while there were so many people around him and nobody rushed to help him, then it’s Azaria case No. 2 – this is how it looks. In one incident a terrorist was shot, and here we have a citizen of whom it is not proven whether he’s a terrorist or not, an Israeli citizen who dies and no one rushes to give him medical attention,” Svetlova said.

Although they have lived in the area for decades, the residents of Umm al-Hiran were never given legal title to the land. Thus, the High Court of Justice ruled 2-1 in 2015 that the land belongs to the state, clearing the way for the demolition of the village.

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