Minister apologizes to Bedouin over Umm al-Hiran incident

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel apologizes — the first such gesture from an Israeli official — over a January incident in the Beduin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev that killed a local man and a police officer.

For weeks, police maintained that the man, Yaqoub Abu Al-Qia’an, was shot by police in the act of carrying out a deliberate car-ramming attack against police who came to evacuate the unofficial village. However, leaked findings from an internal investigation indicated that Abu Al-Qia’an was not a terrorist and that officers at the scene fired at him without sufficient justification, before his vehicle struck and killed police officer Erez Levi.

“I apologize deeply for that,” Ariel says during a tour of the Bedouin city of Rahat. “We will wait for the results of the Police Internal Investigations Department probe, but there are voices attesting to grievous mistakes that were made.”

He goes on to request that his hosts convey his message to the Abu Al-Qia’an family and adds, “Perhaps we can arrange a visit to tell them personally.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who initially sided with police in maintaining that Abu Al-Qia’an was a terrorist, has since partially walked back the claim, stopping short of an apology.

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