Investigators Into Bedouin Killing Are Out to Get Police, Israel's Public Security Minister Says

Public security minister dismisses Justice Ministry contention that police killed driver going 10 kilometers per hour

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich, April 26, 2018.
\ Moti Milrod

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday accused the Police Internal Investigations Department in the Justice Ministry of acting “enthusiastically and with bias” against the police.

Erdan spoke in response to the report in Haaretz that the department concluded that the January 2017 incident in Umm al-Hiran, in which Yakub Abu al-Kiyan ran over and killed police officer Erez Levy, had not been a terror attack.

“Note the department’s leaks to Haaretz in contrast to Shai Nitzan’s ruling,” Erdan said in an interview to Army Radio. “Note how much enthusiasm and bias internal investigations have against the police in this context, they leak only what’s convenient to them.”

Referring to Haaretz’s report that Abu al-Kiyan had driven at a low speed before he was shot to death, Erdan said cynically: “I wonder how a combatant like Erez Levy was run over at a speed of 10 kilometers per hour.”

When the interviewer noted that the car drove faster after the driver had been shot, speeding up before hitting Levy, Erdan said, “That whole theory of the foot on the gas was never proved. It’s all speculation.”

Erdan admitted the police and internal investigations did not agree on the incident’s circumstances and called on the Shin Bet to renew the probe into the case. “Internal investigations and the police think differently, and the Shin Bet can complete the investigation in the intelligence area and ask the questions – did al-Kiyan undergo a radicalization process, did he formulate one kind of opinion or other?”

Haaretz reported on Wednesday that despite the internal investigations department’s conclusion that the incident had not been a terror attack, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan decided to close the case without determining whether Abu al-Kiyan had rammed Levy deliberately.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, who said immediately after the incident that Abu al-Kiyan intended to carry out a terror attack and called him “a villainous terrorist,” spoke to Nitzan about the investigation and pressed him not to make a statement ruling out the conclusion that it was a terror attack.

Shin Bet agents who examined the car-ramming scene said the likelihood that Abu al-Kiyan had intended to run Levy over was low.