One killed, over two dozen wounded during clashes in Beduin city of Rahat

Justice Ministry opens probe into shooting to determine the source of the bullet that killed 21-year-old Sami al-Ajar.

Police truck comes under barrage of rocks in Rahat, January 18  (photo credit: MAARIV)
Police truck comes under barrage of rocks in Rahat, January 18
(photo credit: MAARIV)
A man in his 40s died Sunday night hours after he was wounded during clashes with police in the Beduin city of Rahat that left over two dozen injured.
The cause of his death is still unclear, and there are reportedly indications it may have been the cause of cardiac arrest or a complication caused by the high level of tear gas used by police at the scene.
In addition, another protester was badly hurt and at least 22 others lightly wounded. At least two police officers were wounded during the clashes, including one moderately.
The clashes began after a police truck arrived at a funeral in Rahat for a local man shot to death during clashes with police last Wednesday night. The truck came under a barrage of rocks and was attacked repeatedly, police said, and they were forced to use crowd dispersal means in order to flee the scene.
The clashes came after a one-day general strike held in Beduin towns and villages across southern Israel to protest the death of 21-year-old Sami al-Ajar, who last week was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound hours after police came to the village to execute a search warrant against a suspected drug house in the Beduin city.
On Thursday the Justice Ministry said they had opened a probe into the shooting to determine the source of the bullet and also to determine if the officers behaved appropriately during the raid.
Police said they were attacked during the raid and fired shots in the air in order to extricate themselves from the scene.
Sunday’s general strike included the local school systems in Beduin areas across the Negev, as well as private businesses.
On Sunday afternoon, thousands took part in the funeral for al-Ajar, which led to serious gridlock in the Rahat area.
Khalil al-Amur, a resident of an unrecognized village in the Negev, said the prevailing feeling in Beduin villages and towns in the south since the shooting is that “the blood of an Arab isn’t worth as much.”
Al-Amur said that the consensus is that al-Ajar was not involved in the clashes with police, and that even if he had been, police could have arrested him without using deadly force.
He said the one-day general strike called in the Beduin sector was part of “a day of mourning for a youth whose life was taken in a moment for no reason.”