Police Officers Who Killed Bedouin Man to Be Questioned

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Rahat residents clash with police, January 20, 2015, after two Bedouins killed in confrontations. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkowitz

Police officers who killed a young man during a drug raid last month in the Bedouin town Rahat, which set off violent protests, will be summoned for police questioning in the coming days, police investigators told Haaretz on Thursday.

Sources in the Police Investigation Unit said that suspicions are mounting that the January 15 shooting of Sami al-Jaar violated police regulations.

On that date, police were arresting suspected drug dealers in the Negev town, when local residents gathered and began throwing stones at police and confronting them with the demand that they release the detainees. Police opened fire to try to repel the crowd.

Southern District Commander Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevi said at the time that Jaar, 22, was arrested while in the car of one of the drug dealers and that his father arrived on the scene wielding metal bars and began attacking the policemen.

“A crowd gathered and threw stones in an attempt to free the drug dealers, the whole thing became complicated and the policemen felt threatened. They began an extrication procedure, calling for reinforcements, hearing gunshots nearby. There is no reluctance in using firearms in Rahat. The policemen fired into the air and the force sent to relieve them was delayed,” said Halevi at a press conference following the incident.

Khaled al-Jaar, father of the deceased and a retired Israeli policeman, denied that his son was involved in drug dealing. He said his son had complained several times about drug deals taking place at the school, where the fatal raid took place, close to his home. He said his son heard shouting and ran out to see what was happening, at which point the young man was attacked by policemen.

“I only ask for one thing, that all those policemen be investigated, including their weapons. I refer to small and large weapons, as well as to undercover policemen. If Israel is a law-abiding country, if there is justice here, whoever killed my son should be brought to trial,” said Khaled al-Jaar.

At Sami al-Jaar’s funeral three days later, one of the mourners, Sami Ibrahim Zayadna, 45, died from the effects of inhaling tear gas that police fired after some of those at the funeral reportedly began throwing stones at them.

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