Relatives of Druse cop insist he didn't commit suicide

Despite rumors circulating in the Druse village of Beit Jan that Ghanem may have been shot by someone else, police are sticking to their initial assessment.

druse funeral 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
druse funeral 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Family members of a Druse border policeman who fatally shot himself in June during a farewell ceremony of French President Nicolas Sarkozy say they believe he did not commit suicide. According to police, Raed Assad Ghanem, 33, who was helping guard Ben-Gurion airport during the June 24 ceremony, shot himself in the head as Sarkozy was about to board his plane, causing fleeting concern at the time that an assassination attempt was in progress. Despite rumors circulating in the Druse village of Beit Jan that Ghanem may have been shot by someone else, police are sticking to their initial assessment. "He was shot by his own weapon," police spokesman Shlomi Sagi said Monday. "Beyond that, we are investigating. He wasn't shot by anyone else. There's no doubt." Police investigators are still examining "the entirety" of the event, he said, and a police committee is also looking into "police conduct" at the time of the incident. Some policemen have said that Ghanem may have accidentally shot himself. Ahmad Ghanem, Raed's first cousin who formerly worked with him in the border police, said he found it hard to believe that Raed would have committed suicide. First, he was a man who was "very, very good, serious, responsible and took initiative," he said, noting that he was very well liked by his commanders in the border patrol. In addition, he was a happy man who loved life, he said. He was also someone who was "very, very concerned" about his health and somewhat squeamish about being physically hurt. "If an insect stung him, it would really scare him and hurt him... so to believe that he would get into a situation where he would commit suicide, no one would believe," Ghanem said. He also added that suicide is forbidden in Druse society, and that his cousin was no different than any other God-fearing Druse. "In the Druse community, this isn't accepted, not religiously and not family-wise," he said. "Not for any price. It's not accepted. It's forbidden... God gives us life, only God takes our life." Raed's father Assad, who has nine other children, also denied that his son would have taken his own life. "It's forbidden," the father said in a phone interview. "They killed him." When asked which people, he responded: "Either from Israel or by fate." Some relatives thought Raed may have been killed by an Israeli security official by accident - if, for example, he had been looking through his telescopic sight to get a better view of the scene. Police adamantly rejected this view. The family's attorney, Carmiel-based Samer Ali, said there are many indications that Raed did not kill himself based on "signs from the initial investigation and from all kinds of testimony from police that we discovered," but he did not provide further details. Ali said that despite his requests, he was yet to receive an autopsy report, which he believed could shed further light on the incident. Another cousin, Tamir Ghanem, 20, said his relative was a happy man who did not have any problems with his family or others. "He was married for seven years and during his life, he was gracious with his wife and with his children," said the cousin. "All the time, he would laugh with his us and with his neighbors. "I am certain - not 100 percent but 200% - that this young man wouldn't have committed suicide. He didn't have the heart to kill anything small, even an ant, so how could he kill himself?" he asked.