Tensions remain high in Rahat after two die in clashes with police

Aerial videos released by police show police truck trapped on a highway next to the funeral, blocked in by dozens of cars as rock-throwers descend from all angles.

January 20, 2015 20:57
2 minute read.

Clashes in Rahat, January 18, 2015

Clashes in Rahat, January 18, 2015


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Violence between police and rioters in Rahat continued on Tuesday night, as officers arrested three people in the city for allegedly throwing rocks and firebombs during a protest march. A video posted online Tuesday night purports to show a local getting run over by a police video, and cuts to a shot of a man laying on the pavement who appears to be badly injured.

Overnight Monday, a group of masked men threw rocks at police stations and torched tires and burned dumpsters nearby.

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Southern District police arrested six people in the city overnight Monday, as a group of masked men threw rocks at police stations and torched tires and dumpsters nearby. Police said they did not use “crowd dispersal methods” – a term referring to non-lethal means such as tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Over the past week, two local men died during clashes with police in the Beduin city north of Beersheba.

Arab businesses across the country observed a general strike on Tuesday to protest the deaths and what they call police brutality in the clashes. Around 100 demonstrators gathered at Tel Aviv University to protest the violence.

Sami Ziadna, 45, died on Sunday night when a police truck entered Rahat during the funeral of Sami Jehar and locals rioted.
Jehar, a 21-year-old man, was killed last Wednesday night during a riot that police say started when officers came to execute a search warrant as part of a drug investigation. Police said that they were attacked last Wednesday by rock-throwing locals and began to fire in the air to extricate themselves. The Justice Ministry has opened a probe into that incident and has not issued a ruling about who fired the bullet that killed Jehar.

Ziadna was pronounced dead at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba on Sunday night. The hospital said his death appeared to be connected to a heart condition and not due to any injury suffered in the riot. Locals maintain that he died during Jehar’s funeral as a result of heavy police use of tear gas.

Aerial videos released by police show a police truck trapped on a highway next to the funeral, blocked in by dozens of cars as rock-throwers descend from all angles attacking the vehicle. In one video, a trailer truck can be seen pulling up, and police  leap out and begin firing tear gas and flash bangs, eventually clearing the scene.

The war of words continued to heat up on Tuesday, with Southern District police calling the incident Sunday night “a lynch of police officers,” three  of whom were wounded. Meanwhile, locals have accused police of treating them like terrorists in the Gaza Strip, and of having an light trigger finger when it comes to Arab citizens.

The Southern District sent out several videos of the incident shot by a police helicopter, as well as more than a dozen photos of the police truck that came under attack. The photos show very heavy damage to the truck, which is much better reinforced than a regular police vehicle, and is built for use in violent disturbances.

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