Police Conduct Unit Recommends Closing Case Against Policemen Who Killed Bedouin

Yakub Abu al-Kiyan was shot and killed after a car that he was driving ran over and killed a policemen in clashes over the evacuation of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in January

Al-Kiyan's car being towed from the scene in Umm al-Hiran
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

The Justice Ministry's unit that investigates police misconduct has recommended for a second time that the investigation of policemen who shot and killed a resident of the Bedouin Negev community of Umm al-Hiran, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, in January should be closed.

Jacob Musa Abu al-Kian, who was fatally shot by police after supposedly ramming his car into security forces.

Al-Kiyan was shot and killed after running over and killing a policeman at the scene, Erez Levy. The incident followed the dispatch of police to demolish several houses in Umm al-Hiran, which was built without government authority.

Two weeks ago, it has now been learned, the Justice Ministry police conduct unit again turned its investigation file in Al-Kiyan's case over the state prosecutor's office with a recommendation that no charges be filed against the policemen, saying that their conduct did not constitute a crime.

Israeli officer Erez Levy, 37, who was killed during clashes in Umm al-Hiran after allegedly being run over.

About a month ago, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan had sent the file  back to the Justice Ministry police conduct office asking for additional investigative work after the police said the Shin Bet security service had concluded that Al-Kiyan had deliberately run Levy over in terrorist attack.

A source close to the investigation said the Justice Ministry investigation did not focus on Al-Kiyan's motives and that the police conduct unit refrained from any decision on whether it was a deliberate terrorist attack. Residents of the Bedouin community said that, after the file had been sent back to the police conduct unit, Shin Bet representatives visited Umm al-Hiran to question them about the incident.

New video raises questions about alleged car-ramming attack by Bedouin Police

Police claimed, following the incident, that Al-Kiyan ran Levy over in a deliberate attack on behalf of the Islamist Islamic State group, but the details of the incident that have been released so far do not confirm the claim.

In addition to recommending that the investigation against the policemen who shot Al-Kiyan be closed, according to a source close to the investigation, it appears that the ministry's police conduct unit will also recommend closing a case against policemen suspected of assaulting  the leader of the predominantly Arab Joint List Knesset faction, Ayman Odeh that same day at the scene. Odeh was injured in clashes between protesters and police.

Odeh claimed that he was first sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray, then shot in the head and back with foam-tipped bullets. Police said Odeh was hit by a rock that protesters had thrown at police.

The police conduct unit is expected to recommend that the police involved in the confrontation with Odeh face internal disciplinary action within the police force for failing to report the confrontation in their police report.

Like the case involving the police who shot Al-Kiyan, that file too had been sent back to the Justice Ministry for further investigation after the ministry's police conduct unit recommended that it be closed.

The Justice Ministry's police conduct unit declined to comment for this article. For his part, following reports that unit had recommended closing the case against the policemen who killed Al-Kiyan, Odeh said he was not at all surprised and had no expectations for a fair investigation "that would provide a bit of justice to Yakub and his family." Claiming that Al-Kiyan was innocent, Odeh said the policemen who shot him also prevented him from receiving medical treatment and left him to die in his own blood. "Shouldn't someone also be punished for that?" Odeh asked.

Those ultimately responsible for Al-Kiyan's death are Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Odeh said, adding that they had sent policemen to Umm al-Hiran in pitch darkness and "armed to the teeth."

Several days after the incident, Alsheich commented: "You have to understand the area the police were in – the place was dark, a person sitting in a car who was signaled not to move starts to drive,” he said. “Despite all attempts to signal him with a flashlight, to bang on his car and to shoot at his tires, he begins to drive wildly, swerves and runs policemen down.”