Netanyahu blasts police for fake terrorism story, 'conspiracy'

The head investigator in the Netanyahu-Mozes corruption case had an affair with Mozes' sister.

WILL NETANYAHU continue to keep his ministers in the shadows? (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
WILL NETANYAHU continue to keep his ministers in the shadows?
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted former police commissioner Roni Alsheikh, saying he gave him a false narrative of a terrorist attack, Globes reported Tuesday evening.

"I received a report. I asked police three times and received a report from the commissioner's office that it indeed was a car-ramming attack," Netanyahu said, according to the media outlet. 

"First, I would like to apologize before the al-Kiyan family, the head of which, an Israeli citizen, was killed. He was labeled a terrorist, and yesterday it became clear he was not one."

In early 2017, Arab-Israeli teacher Yacoub Abu al-Kiyan was shot while driving in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev during clashes with law enforcement over its demolition. His car drove into police officers, killing one.

Seven months ago, new evidence from a probe into the shooting showed al-Kiyan was left to bleed to death, according to Haaretz. Shin Bet documents from an investigation of the incident reportedly showed the teacher was driving at only 10 kilometers per hour (6 miles per hour) before being shot.

"Yesterday, it was revealed that high-ranking officials from the State Attorney's Office and police turned [al-Kiyan] into a terrorist only to protect themselves and harm me," Netanyahu said. 

"I said at the time there were serious issues with police's conduct, and they said, 'God forbid the media reveal the misconduct as it will support Netanyahu's claims,'" he added.

"But it is way worse than what I said, because the Police Investigations Department [PID] wanted to investigate the incident and [then-]state attorney Shai Nitzan forbade it."
Al-Kiyan's brother responded to Netanyahu's apology saying that the incident "was murder," and that "all people involved should be prosecuted."
Al-Kiyan's nephew said that he will not accept an apology from Alsheikh, Nitzan or former public security minister, Israeli Ambassador to the UN and the US, Gilad Erdan. He went on to say that the three are "not worthy" of their senior positions.
On Monday, N12's Amit Segal revealed documents reportedly showing cases of misconduct by Israel Police and the State Attorney's Office, including the alleged cover-up of a conflict of interest relating to the corruption investigations against Netanyahu.

According to Segal, Superintendent Avi Rutenberg, the investigator in Netanyahu's corruption Case 2000 on an alleged bribery offer by Yediot Aharonot publisher Noni Mozes, was having an affair with Mozes' sister, Judy Nir-Mozes, when nominated head of the investigation.

The issue regarding the conflict of interests reportedly rose following allegations before Rutenberg's nomination. The officer reportedly denied the allegations, only for his wife to confirm the claims to police a year and a half later. According to Segal, Rutenberg was reprimanded and the case was then forwarded to the PID.

The department reportedly said there was sufficient evidential basis to investigate Rutenberg for obstruction of justice.

As the case was forwarded to the PID parallel to police recommendation to indict Netanyahu, Nitzan and his deputy Shlomo Lemberger reportedly hindered the investigation. A document cited by Segal showed Lemberger forbade the PID to investigate the conflict of interest, citing "obvious reasons."

When al-Kiyan was killed by police in 2017, Alsheikh announced that the teacher was a "terrorist bound to die." According to Segal, the PID said the commissioner was spreading libelous claims against both the deceased and the department, the head of which demanded Nitzan to correct the statements.

Nitzan reportedly replied to the PID in a secret email, agreeing that Alsheikh's "behavior was unacceptable," but refusing to correct his statements, saying it would "only do well to those willing to harm the law enforcement establishment."

According to Nitzan, "the commissioner did act in a scandalous manner, but there are state interests that need to be taken into account."

On Tuesday, Israel Police Spokesperson's Unit commented on the new reports, apologizing before the al-Kiyan family. 

"This is a sad incident that took place more than three and a half years ago, during which an officer and a local lost their lives during a operation conducted according to the law," police said. "We are sorry for the family's loss."

According to the unit, "the incident was examined by all authorized agents, the conclusions were published and we are committed to act to prevent such incidents in the future regardless" of the reports.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said Tuesday night it had decided to petition the High Court of Justice in the name of the al-Kiyan family in order to reopen the investigation of the incident.

"An apology is not enough in order to cause [police] accountability for the unlawful actions that led to the death of an innocent person," Adalah responded to the reports and Israel Police's comments.

"We will continue our endeavor to reopen the investigation [of the incident] and bring all those responsible to justice, starting with police's chain of command, through the one who opened fire at al-Kiyan and to the officers and medical professionals that left him to bleed out to death," Adalah continued.

"Twenty years after the October 2000 events, the same patterns of police brutality, cover-ups and the use of the military against civilians have not changed whatsoever."

In October 2000, an emergency regulation created by Netanyahu in 1998 was used by prime minister Ehud Barak, authorizing the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters, including Israeli citizens.

The regulation was implemented to suppress Arab-Israeli unrest, leading to the deaths of 13 civilians and sparking the Second Intifada, according to a report by the Or Commission tasked with investigating the events.

"The information reported yesterday only confirms that law enforcement was guided by foreign interests when closing the investigation," Adalah continued. 

"We also see the political establishment, with the prime minister as its head, as directly responsible for these incidents by outlining policy, continuous incitement and the decision-making process that preceded the events." 

Hence, said Adalah, "today's apology cannot replace measures that would establish accountability and justice."

The center added that it petitioned the Court to charge Erdan, as well as Israel Police, the PID and Nitzan, seeing them all at fault of "serious misconduct."