HADASH MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, speaks at the Knesset in this file photo..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
State Attorney Shai Nitzan and the Police Investigations Department have closed the investigation of a policeman using pepper spray and allegedly firing a rubber bullet at Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh, during the demolition of Bedouin village Umm al-Hiran in January 2017.
In explaining the decision on Thursday, the department said it found that the policeman’s use of pepper spray had been justified when less aggressive means to remove him from a dangerous area failed.
Regarding the alleged firing of a rubber bullet grazing Odeh and another man, it said it could not clearly conclude that he had been shot by police.
Rather, the department said an expert’s report had said Odeh had been hit by a heavy object, which could have been a rubber bullet, but could have been other objects during a chaotic scene, and that without the bullet, which was never found, there could be no prosecution.
Further, there was no evidence that a rubber bullet had been fired near Odeh though rubber bullets had been used elsewhere and that all of this evidence contradicted Odeh’s personal testimony that he knew how it felt to be hit by a rubber bullet, police said.
Also, the policeman was heavily impacted, feeling that it was developing into a terror situation, the investigations department said.
Policeman Erez Shaul had already been killed, as well as Bedouin Yaakub al-Kian, and there had been one other instance of police coming under fire.
Probes into the killing of Shaul and al-Kian were also previously closed with Nitzan controversially unwilling to rule whether al-Kian had been accidentally killed or whether he had acted as a terrorist, though there was heavy evidence that he was shot dead before a vehicle he was in drove toward police.
Odeh had been present to protest the controversial demolition of the Bedouin town, which had been ordered demolished with court approval, but which Bedouin consider part of attempts to clear some of their villages for new Jewish ones.
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