One killed in clashes with police at funeral of Rahat man

Thousands attend service for 20-year-old Bedouin shot to death during drug bust; father of victim, a former cop, says he regrets service

One person was killed and another seriously injured in clashes with police Sunday in the predominantly Bedouin city of Rahat, as thousands attended the funeral of a man killed over the weekend during a drug bust.

Twenty other people were hurt during the funeral of Rahat residents Sami al-Jaar, 20.

Police said they were attacked by the funeral-goers with stones, and called for backup. One policeman was moderately hurt, and another lightly injured. The police that arrived at the funeral then used riot dispersal means to break up the crowds.

The entire city held a strike Sunday, in protest of al-Jaar’s death, who was killed by gunfire last Thursday.

There will be a general strike in Rahat on Monday as well, Israel Radio reported. At 1:00 p.m. Monday, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee will convene to decide further steps.

According to the police account of al-Jaar’s death, policemen shot in the air after they were attacked by stones as they entered Rahat to arrest several people for drug-related crimes. Al-Jaar, who was standing nearby, was hit.

An investigation has been opened into the case.

The family of the victim said al-Jaar was not involved in the arrests. When the police came, Khaled al-Jaar — the father of the victim and a former cop himself — said he went outside with his son to see where the noise was coming from, according to the Walla news website.

Across the street, he saw police beating several youths with their weapons, he said. The elder al-Jaar approached the police and told them they shouldn’t be beating them. He then fought with a policeman, he said, who pushed him on the ground, aimed his gun at him and warned him to leave. Khaled al-Jaar returned to stand near his house shortly after, he said.

According to his account, the police sprayed tear gas at his son, and then “there was massive gunfire.”

“We were next to the house, just by our cars. Suddenly my son says to me, ‘Father, they killed me.’ He lifted his shirt, still speaking, and I see signs of bullets. There was an entry wound.”

Khaled al-Jaar said family members ran over to rush his son to a nearby clinic. He said he was then arrested by police, handcuffed, and “instead of protecting me, which is their job, they beat the hell out of me.”

The father said he passed out from the blows and was nursing a broken arm.

Police said Khaled al-Jaar was arrested for assaulting a policeman at the scene, and continued to fight police after he was detained, according to Israel Radio.

On Sunday, the senior al-Jaar said he regretted his service in the police force.

“I’m sorry I served the state,” he said. “I am telling Bibi Netanyahu and everyone — I am sorry I served in the Israel Police, Border Police. I regret it today. I am saying this to everyone Bedouin and Arab who volunteers today — let him think a million times before he goes. To them I say, if my son was murdered, what will happen to them tomorrow? What will they [the police] do to them?”

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