Arab Rights Group Demands Israel Launch New Probe Into Clash That Resulted in Bedouin's Death

Adalah leaders urge Israel's attorney general to start a 'neutral' investigation after inconclusive results published by police of the January 2017 violence in which a policeman and a Bedouin man were killed

People watch as the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran and the future site of Hiran is evacuated, January 18, 2017.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Arab advocacy organization Adalah has demanded that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit order a new investigation by a neutral, unbiased party into violence at Umm al-Hiran last year in which two people died, a policeman and a Bedouin village resident.

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Initially, police accused Yakub Abu al-Kiyan of murdering policeman Erez Levy in a car-ramming attack at the site in January 2017 after police arrived at the scene for an eviction to make way for plans for a Jewish town there.

But as Haaretz reported this week, both the Shin Bet security service coordinator who investigated at the scene of the incident and senior Justice Ministry officials later concluded that Abu al-Kiyan had lost control of his car after police opened fire at him, and did not deliberately aim for the officer.

If so, then both deaths would have resulted from “operational errors” on the part of police, as the Shin Bet coordinator’s report said. Nevertheless, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan closed the case against the policemen while saying he couldn’t determine whether or not Abu al-Kiyan was a terrorist.

In a letter to Mendelblit, Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel - said this sequence of events raises suspicions that the Justice Ministry’s investigation against the policemen “was tainted by many illegal flaws.” These flaws raise suspicions that law enforcement agencies were guilty of extraneous considerations and obstructing justice, it said.

>> Secret Shin Bet file on 2017 cop killing: Not terrorism, but a police failure

Adalah attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Fady Khoury alleged in their letter that both Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich apparently “influenced the results of the investigation” even though they had “a clear political interest” in the outcome.

The letter also said that if Adalah appealed Nitzan’s decision to close the case, it wanted Mendelblit to consider the appeal himself and not involve Nitzan, because having made the original decision, Nitzan would have “a clear conflict of interests.”

The Justice Ministry said Mendelblit has received the letter and will respond.

Haaretz reported on Tuesday that a police physician at the scene testified she had not noticed Abu al-Kiyan and therefore did not provide him any medical treatment. He bled to death of his injuries.