Top cop said to accuse police of hiding key document in car-ramming probe
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Top cop said to accuse police of hiding key document in car-ramming probe

In light of new information, Police Investigations Department to reexamine deaths during demolition of Bedouin village

Israeli policemen detain a Bedouin man during a protest against home demolitions on January 18, 2017, in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Israeli policemen detain a Bedouin man during a protest against home demolitions on January 18, 2017, in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich reportedly accused the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department on Thursday of burying a key document in an investigation into the police shooting of a Bedouin teacher at the beginning of the year.

According to Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2 news), police said that a document containing testimonies of the incident was ignored by the Police Investigations Department, tasked with investigating alleged offenses by officers.

In response, investigators explained, “This was an internal document of the Shin Bet security service, which the Investigations Department was unaware of until recently. As soon as it learned of its existence, the Shin Bet was asked to transfer it to investigators,” Hadashot reported.

The investigators said accusations they buried the report were baseless.

The State Prosecutor on Tuesday asked the ministry’s Police Investigations Department to take another look at the events surrounding the death of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, who was slain by police in Umm al-Hiran during a nighttime incident in which his car drove into officers, killing 1st Sgt. Erez Levi. 34.

The incident was initially ruled terrorism, but authorities have indicated since that Abu Al-Qia’an likely lost control of the vehicle after being shot and did not intentionally hit the officers.

Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an (Courtesy)

A six-month probe by the PID concluded in August there was no indication that the officers had acted criminally in shooting Abu Al-Qia’an. The findings were transferred to the attorney general and the state’s attorney, who have not yet given a final decision on whether to press charges.

Channel 10 reported Tuesday the new evidence concerns the shots that killed Abu Al-Qia’an and a sponge-tipped bullet that allegedly injured MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint (Arab) List parliamentary faction, who was injured during protests against the January 18 home demolitions.

Over the past two days, several officers were questioned, the report said. The investigation file will eventually be returned to prosecutors with an updated conclusion from police.

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, 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. Abu Al-Qia’an was fatally shot by police.

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

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 who was shot after intentionally ramming his vehicle into the officers.

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.

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