Opinion

Left to Bleed to Death, and Called a Murderer

Yakub Abu al-Kiyan is called a murderer, while the police officers who shot him are only said to have killed. At worst, they caused an Arab’s death.

Police in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel, January 18, 2017.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

For at least 20 minutes, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan was left to bleed to death, and afterward he was labeled a murderer. What did you think, Abu Al-Kiyan, that if you died you would escape the curse of those who came to make the desert bloom, and at the same time destroyed 500 Arab villages? Not even death can free you from the real-estate gluttons.

Today it’s already clear that the time line in Umm al-Hiran last Wednesday was the reverse of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s version of the events. First the police officers fired, and then the car rolled down the hill. But don’t despair, the experts are toiling even now to determine whether, even after he was shot, Abu Al-Kiyan could have plowed into a group of police officers. One orthopedist was quoted on the radio as saying that after being shot in the knee his foot couldn’t have dropped onto the gas pedal, as other experts suggested, and the twinkle returned to people’s eyes: Perhaps it was a terror attack after all.

Israeli justice currently allows Abu al-Kiyan to enjoy the benefit of the doubt. Either scenario is possible: perhaps a deliberate ramming, perhaps not. It’s the greatest gift Abu al-Kiyan could get from Israeli justice. The Lebanese-American writer Khalil Gibran spoke of “the justice on earth,” that “would make the jinn weep” if they could hear it, and the dead to laugh if they could see it. We can only assume that Abu Al-Kiyan is smiling at the pathetic justice down there.

So here is the new profile of an Islamic State adherent: Out of pure malice, he elects to be born to a displaced family. He forces himself to build a home for his family. He waits for the police to come and raze his house and flees from the village, for fear of the bulldozers. On the way he lets the police shoot him and allows himself, without a twinge of conscience, to be murdered and to lose control of his car so that it hit the policeman. For the sake of copyright protection, let it be clear that this story came from Erdan’s feverish brain.

It’s difficult to know what happened on the slice of ground surrounding the two injured men. One, police Sgt. Maj. Erez Levi, was presumably already dead; the other, Abu al-Kiyan, was bleeding, Did the policemen there decry the bitter fate of these two young men, who had their whole lives ahead of them? Did they talk about their dreams, what they had done and what they would never be able to do? Did they try to coordinate their stories, or was the official version handed down the chain of command to them later? Did they think the sun would shine, and a courageous Jew would clearly declare: Abu al-Kiyan was shot before his car hit the officers?

I think of the bitter fate of “our soldier,” Elor Azaria, whose hot Mizrahi blood caused him to rise up and rub out the wounded Palestinian in Hebron. Why was he so hotheaded? After all, a few minutes later the wounded man would have died from loss of blood, without all the uproar and superfluous questioning.

Abu al-Kiyan is called a murderer, while the police officers are only said to have killed. At worst, they caused an Arab’s death. I asked a friend who understands the difference between the words. What don’t you understand? he replied impatiently. The term “murderer” is meant for Arabs, “killer” for Jews.

The body of the “unwilling murderer,” Abu al-Kiyan, is in a morgue freezer. Those who caused his death, by denying him medical care that could have saved his life, walk freely. If there is a request to prosecute him, all hell will break loose. “Why, who died?” wrote author David Grossman, who was shocked by the policemen who in 2008 abandoned Omar Abu Jariban, a Gazan man, to die on the side of a West Bank road.

Israeli justice caused even jinni to cry. Some other time we will tell about the father of this justice, the judicial system, which approved the uprooting of an Arab village in order to build a Jewish village on its ruins.