Erdan defends police actions in Umm al-Hiran demolition operation

‘Looks like they are covering up something,’ says Joint List MK.

Police in Umm-al-Hiran (photo credit: Courtesy)
Police in Umm-al-Hiran
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan rebuffed on Wednesday the demand by the Joint List, Meretz and some MKs from the Zionist Union to establish a state commission to inquire into the deaths of a policeman and an Arab teacher during a demolition operation in the unrecognized Negev Beduin village of Umm al-Hiran last week.
Erdan pointed a finger at the Arab MKs for allegedly inciting, and explained why he was determined to say that it was a terrorist attack.
The plenum voted against establishing a commission, 22 to 43.
Clashes in Umm-al-Hiran
“In the video that was taken from the helicopter and from the police investigation it was clear that it was a terrorist attack, deliberate ramming,” Erdan said. “You could have seen that the jeep accelerates, turn sharply to the right and hits the policemen. Then, he turns again in order to escape but he stops when a police vehicle stops him.”
Eyewitnesses interviewed by The Jerusalem Post, however, said the vehicle accelerated only after shots were fired at it and the video appears to support their account. Umm al-Hiran residents say police shot dead the teacher, Yacoub Abu al-Kaeean, without justification and then framed him as a terrorist.
“I, as the public security minister, before all, backup completely my troops that are out there,” Erdan stressed.
“We are talking here about an illegal settlement and a terrorist driver that should have not driven into the police forces.
If we should ask anything it should be directed to the one that carried out the attack.”
MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) told the Post Wednesday night why she thinks an independent probe into the events that led to the death of Abu al-Kaeean and policeman Erez Levi is necessary.
“We don’t trust that the same police that shot a civilian and immediately connected him to ISIS will be investigating this case,” she said. “It has to be an objective side, an official investigative commission, independent. In principle, if the police do not have anything to hide, if the minister who after half-an-hour started inciting people against Umm al-Hiran and the Arab MKs have nothing to hide, and is telling the truth, he should not oppose the idea of a commission.”
Touma-Sliman, who entered Umm al-Hiran immediately after police pulled out, said Abu al-Kaeean was not a terrorist and that he was wrongly shot dead by police.
She said the questions that need to be investigated include: “How was Yacoub Abu al-Kaeean shot? Who gave an order to go into a village of citizens with live ammunition? Who gave the order to attack an MK [Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh] trying to calm the situation and understand what was going on? Why was Abu al-Kaeean left to bleed until he died? Who ordered not to give him any medical care? Either Erdan got wrong information from the people on the ground – if so, why isn’t he punishing those who gave him the information? Or did Erdan use what happened to incite and get political benefits out of this.
“There are at least 30-40 fundamental questions that should be investigated,” Touma- Sliman said. “It looks like they are covering up something.”
In his remarks, Erdan reiterated his claims that it was the incitement of the Joint List representatives that caused the bloodshed.
“We should not only investigate what happened at the same day, we should investigate what happened before and led to that point,” he said.
“The events did not come from nowhere. There were people who fanned the flames and the emotions prior to that harsh day. MK [Jamal] Zahalka said before: ‘If blood will spill, so be it... 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.’ Then Odeh said: ‘We will go with this issue all the way through, till the end!’ Maybe you can explain to me what is going all the way through? “It is no coincidence that the mayor of Nazareth slammed you for ruining his city. MK [Haneen] Zoabi also said: ‘This is a struggle on our lives and our land,’” he added.
“What we need to inquire is what happened before all that,” Erdan said. “We are talking here about a party that one of its lawmakers smuggled phones to terrorists and murderers.”