In new video from Umm al-Hiran incident, officers heard shouting ‘don’t shoot!’
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In new video from Umm al-Hiran incident, officers heard shouting ‘don’t shoot!’

Commands to hold fire ahead of shooting death of resident heard clearly in new footage from deadly evacuation of Bedouin village

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

In new footage released Monday evening from the deadly evacuation of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran two months ago, police can be heard directing fellow officers to hold their fire before gun shots go off, ultimately killing a resident of the village.

While the roughly 30-second video was shot from a distance with a car horn sounding continuously throughout, the repeated “don’t shoot” order can still be heard clearly amidst the commotion.

The incident took place in the early morning of January 18 when police arrived to oversee the demolition of homes in the unrecognized village, which the state was seeking to remove in order to clear the way for a new Jewish town.

As officers converged on Umm al-Hiran, Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, 47, a teacher and father of 12, packed a few belongings into his SUV and drove from his house, telling friends that he did not wish to witness its destruction. Soon afterward, the vehicle rammed into a group of officers, killing 1st Sgt. Erez Levi. 34. Abu Al-Qia’an was fatally shot by police.

‏״לא לירות!, לא לירות!״ ואז נשמעת ירייה. תיעוד חדש מהאירוע הקשה באום אל חירן במהלכו נהרגו שוטר ואזרח

Posted by ‎איציק זוארץ, כתב כאן בדרום‎ on Monday, 27 March 2017

Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an (Courtesy)
Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an (Courtesy)

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and the police asserted that Abu Al-Qia’an was a nationalistically motivated terrorist, inspired by the Islamic State group.

The charge charge was vehemently denied denied by his family members, who argued that he was shot before his car sped up, leading him to lose control of the vehicle.

And activists and others said police had used excessive force, pointing to what they see as institutionalized racism against Arabs.

According to reports in Hebrew-language media in February, the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department found no evidence to support the claim that the incident in Umm al-Hiran was a terror attack, and also determined that police officers did not act according to protocol. One report on the right-wing Channel 20 said that officers shot at one another and almost caused a friendly fire incident.

Police officer 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, who was killed in an alleged car-ramming attack at Umm al-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Courtesy)
Police officer 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, who was killed in an alleged car-ramming attack at Umm al-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Courtesy)

Video footage that emerged in the hours after the incident showed that the officers fired before Abu Al-Qia’an accelerated, and that, contrary to police assertions, the car’s lights were on. In addition, Channel 10 reported in January that a police autopsy indicated that a police bullet hit him in the right knee, smashing it. The bullet wound may have caused Abu Al-Qia’an to lose control of his car, the TV report said.

Although he subsequently admitted it was “possible” he was mistaken, Erdan said he would only apologize if a report by the ministry’s Internal Police Internal Investigations Department showed he was mistaken.

Last month family members of Abu Al-Qia’an urged the minister to apologize.

“The truth is starting to become clear, we have all waited for this,” Amal Abu Sa’ed, a widow of Abu Al-Qia’an, told Army Radio. “Erdan made a mistake and we are requesting an apology. Only strong people can apologize.”

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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