Police Doctor Failed to Treat Wounded Bedouin Man During Deadly Umm al-Hiran Clashes

The physician, who claimed she didn't see the man's wounded body, was not questioned despite conflicting evidence

The Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran during the demolitions, Jan. 18, 2017.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

A police physician at the scene of the 2017 demolition in Umm al-Hiran claimed in her testimony that she had not seen the wounded body of Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, before he died, and therefore did not give him any medical treatment, contradicting other testimonies, Haaretz has learned.

Nevertheless, the Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers and the State Prosecutor’s Office did not question her as a possible suspect, even though Kiyan, a Bedouin man police shot at the scene of the clash during the Bedouin village's demolition, did not die immediately, but bled to death, and despite the fact that other testimonies contradicted her version of events.

It was also learned that the police delayed submitting all the investigative materials to the department, as a result of which policemen involved were exposed to multiple versions of events and even got to see investigative material before submitting their own testimonies.

Around a month after the incident the state prosecution closed the case against the policemen involved after concluding there was no reasonable suspicion that any of them had committed a crime.

After that decision, Haaretz reported that after Kiyan was shot, which led to his vehicle accelerating and hitting and killing policeman Erez Levy, Kiyan was left to bleed to death at the scene without receiving any medical attention.

Some policemen testified they had thought that Kiyan, who had been shot twice in the back and in his right leg, had been killed on the spot. But the pathology report said he was still alive after hitting Levy, and that he died from loss of blood.

In turns out there was a police doctor and medical team on the scene at the time, and that Justice Ministry investigators had questioned her about the lack of medical attention given to Kiyan.

According to a source familiar with the investigation, the physician testified that after being told of the car ramming she came to the scene, but did not see Kiyan and thus did not give him any treatment.

She said when she came to the area where Levy had been hit, she focused on treating the two injured policemen and had not noticed any other injured person at the scene. She said it was only several hours later that she understood someone had been killed besides Levy.

But the investigators were suspicious of her testimony, because Kiyan’s body, removed from the vehicle after the ramming, was only a few meters away from the injured policemen. Moreover, the investigators had collected other testimonies that contradicted the doctor’s account. One of these accounts said that the doctor saw Kiyan while she was treating the policemen yet issued no instructions to treat the man.

Haaretz has learned that police investigators were divided over whether to question the physician again under caution – with an eye to filing charges – given her behavior at the scene. But in the end the department and the southern district prosecutor’s office decided against making such a recommendation.

It also turns out that although the Justice Ministry had immediately announced it was launching an investigation into the deadly incidents, it took the police four days to hand in its findings, including the testimony and video of policemen taken from a hovering helicopter. Yet the police did release video footage of the incident to the media on the very same day that it occurred.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and other police sources issued media statements containing details about police conduct at the scene in an effort to demonstrate that Levy’s death had been a deliberate ramming attack. These public statements and the delays in transferring other materials significantly undermined investigators’ ability to get at the truth.

According to several sources, the policemen involved in the shooting had been shown the video by other policemen before it was issued to the media and before they were called on to give testimony to their superiors a few hours later, developments which could well have influenced the version of events that these officers provided to investigators.