The police officers involved in a deadly incident January during the demolition of homes at the Umm al-Hiran Bedouin village in southern Israel are not expected to be charged in the death of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, according to a report Tuesday on Israel Radio.
The six-month probe of the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department found no indication that the officers had acted criminally, the report said. The findings will be transferred to the attorney general and the state’s attorney, who are not expected to reverse the decision, the report said.
The incident took place in the early morning of January 18 when police arrived to oversee the demolition of homes in the unrecognized Bedouin 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 with Abu Al-Qia’an at the wheel rammed into a group of officers, killing 1st Sgt. Erez Levi. 34. Abu Al-Qia’an was fatally shot by police.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and the police asserted that Abu Al-Qia’an was a terrorist inspired by the Islamic State group.
The charge was vehemently denied by his family, who argued that he was shot before his car sped up, leading him to lose control of the vehicle. Activists and others said police had used excessive force, pointing to what they claimed was institutionalized racism against Arabs, including Bedouin.
The initial findings from the Police Internal Investigations Department did not point at any 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.
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.
The investigation also revealed that Abu Al-Qia’an died of an internal hemorrhage after he was left bleeding in his vehicle for 20 minutes instead of being taken to a hospital.
Although Erdan subsequently admitted it was “possible” he was mistaken, the minister said he would only apologize if the final report by the Internal Investigations Department showed he had been wrong in his assessment.
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