The Day the State of Israel Tried to Murder the Leader of the Arab Opposition
The Day the State of Israel Tried to Murder the Leader of the Arab Opposition
The Day the State of Israel Tried to Murder the Leader of the Arab Opposition
Aymen Odeh was shot at point blank range and Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an was murdered by Israeli Police in Umm al-Hiran
On January 18th 2017 hundreds of Israeli police invaded the peaceful Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in Israel’s Negev. Umm al-Hiran, despite the villagers having lived there for over 60 years, was’unrecognised’. Half the Arab villages in Israel are unrecognised. No Jewish settlements are unrecognised. The Bedouin were living on State land and that was not permissible. Because in the ‘Jewish’ State, state land can only be occupied by Jews.
What does it mean to be ‘unrecognised’? That you will have no running water, electricity or utilities, garbage collection, schooling or even polling booths in elections. This is quite deliberate as Israeli election authorities actively seek to keep Arab voting to a minimum. Indeed a charity that was seeking to provide buses to transport voters to the nearest polling booth was in last year’s September elections served with an order forbidding it to take Arab voters to the polling booth by the Chair of the Elections Committee, Supreme Court Judge Hannan Melcer.
When the time comes Israel will seek to demolish your village just as they did with Umm al Hiran and as they have done and are doing to many Arab villages in the largely empty desert south of Israel. Why? In order to increase Jewish settlement and to concentrate the Negev’s Bedouin residents in shanty towns, a pool of surplus labour deprived of access to their traditional pastoral farming.
It is reminiscent of what South Africa did when they destroyed African villages and herded their inhabitants into townships. Yet Labour’s racists like Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer and the Zionist Board of Deputies continue to call Israel a ‘democratic state’.
On the fateful day the Israeli police murdered Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an, a school teacher who had just started his car. He was driving slowly away from his house, with his headlights turned on (contrary to Police allegations) and he was then subject to police fire.
His car then sped out of control and it killed a policeman, which you may think is natural justice. Israel’s Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, the one who coordinates opposition to BDS, promptly labelled Yaqub an ISIS terrorist without a sliver of evidence.
In addition the Israeli Police fired from point blank range a sponge tipped bullet at Aymen Odeh, the leader of the Joint List in Israel’s Knesset, wounding him in the head. It was clearly an assassination attempt on the leader of the Arab opposition in Israel but to this day no one has been held to account. Arab life, including its elected representatives, is cheap in Israel.
Below are 2 articles from the Israeli press. One from Israel’s +972 Magazine describes how the Israeli Police investigation deliberately refused to look at evidence that showed that the Police were not only guilty of shooting Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an without cause or reason but that they deliberately left him to bleed to death. What happened could only happen in an Apartheid State where Arabs are treated as sub-human.
The other article is from the Zionist Times of Israel. Written 3 months after the +972 article it describes how the Israeli state is resisting any attempt to reopen the investigation despite its lamentable failures, indeed the refusal of the Police Internal Investigations Department to look at relevant material. Israel’s Internal Security Police, Shin Bet, concluded within 48 hours that the incident was not terrorism related yet Gilad Erdan continued to make such allegations. The PIID simply refused to look at the Shin Bet report.
Let us not forget this when the Board of Deputies tries to get 2 Black MPs suspended for the ‘crime’ of being in the same meeting as 2 Jewish anti-Zionists. This is the state which Keir Starmer and most Labour MPs believe is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ Tony Greenstein
Human rights group demands Israel Police reopen its case into the 2017 shooting of Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh in the head with a sponge-tipped bullet after finding the initial investigation was ‘negligent.’
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel is appealing Israel Police’s investigation of its officers’ conduct during a home demolition in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in January 2017, and requesting that they reopen the case. The appeal is based on a new report by an expert criminologist who found that police did not interrogate all officers who were carrying sponge-tipped bullets on site, and failed to thoroughly review their own footage of MK Ayman Odeh’s shooting.
In its letter to the Police Internal Investigations Department, the committee claims that the previous investigation was “a blunder.” It writes that police deliberately targeted the Joint List chairman, and therefore his shooting should be investigated “as a serious criminal offense.”
The 50-page document is based on materials that the Police Internal Investigations Department itself had collected, in addition to other publicly available evidence that police failed to look at. In one video, for example, a green dot appears on Odeh’s forehead — likely a laser beam used when aiming firearms at a target — moments before officers fired at him with a sponge-tipped bullet.
Odeh suffered minor wounds in his head and back as a result. He filed a complaint with the Police Internal Investigations Department, accusing the police of aggravated assault and unlawful use of a weapon, but the case was closed in September 2018. According to the police report: “Even with the assumption that the object that hit [Odeh] was fired by police, it could not be determined who of the officers had done so.”
In March, through the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Odeh appealed the closing of the case. Last month, after the committee received additional evidence, it filed their detailed investigative report as a supplement to the appeal.
“There are so many materials that the [police] didn’t use or check their relevance to the investigation, this is a serious problem,” said Dr. Ariel Livneh, the criminology expert who reviewed the case for the Public Committee Against Torture. “It’s akin to overlooking fingerprints on a knife at a murder scene. It’s such a gaffe, which itself requires reopening the case.”In response to a request for comment, the Police Internal Investigations Department said: “An appeal was made in this case and is currently being processed. A response will be provided to the petitioners when a decision is made regarding the appeal.”
In the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 2017, hundreds of police officers raided the unrecognized village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev. During the raid, the officers shot and killed Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an, a Bedouin resident who had just started his car at the time. He subsequently careened into Israeli police officer Erez Levy, killing him. Moments after shooting Abu al-Qi’an, police fired tear gas, stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets at Odeh and other activists who tried to get closer to the fatally-wounded resident.
Police immediately labeled the event as an ISIS-inspired “terror attack,” but the evidence contradicts this version of events. Days after the incident, Local Call and +972 Magazine published a preliminary investigation by the London-based Forensic Architecture research center, analyzing footage filmed by Activestills photographer Keren Manor and a police drone.
According to the investigation, Abu al-Qi’an lost control of his vehicle only after police shot him. Further claims made by the police, including that Abu al-Qi’ans headlights were off and that he accelerated as he hit the policemen, were also debunked.
A second Forensic Architecture report released in June included an investigation into Odeh’s shooting. The report by the Public Committee Against Torture coupled with Dr. Livneh’s assessment expose significant failures in Israel Police’s investigation of the case.
“It is reasonable to assume that police didn’t arbitrarily fire a sponge-tipped bullet at the crowd, but deliberately aimed at MK Ayman Odeh’s head,”
says the Public Committee Against Torture report. They add that if aiming at Odeh’s head was indeed intentional, it could have ended with his murder, which “turns the case into one that requires a serious criminal investigation.”
“The way the investigation was handled and the closing of the case are proof that the police treats Arabs as enemies, not as citizens. This was no less than an assassination attempt. We will fight the systemic cover-up efforts by police for the Arab community and every citizen of the state,”
said Odeh.According to Dr. Livneh’s report, eight photographers — three with the police force, and five civilians — documented various parts of Odeh’s shooting. When Manor went to submit her video to police as evidence, in November 2017, they refused to accept it, claiming they had already seen similar footage. Manor said she was not asked to testify as to what she saw, heard and documented that night.
The police also ignored video evidence by activist Ya’ala Ra’nan, who filmed officers firing tear gas from close range at her, MK Odeh and others on her mobile phone. The video clearly shows the faces of the officers who were involved, as well as those standing nearby who could have fired the sponge-tipped bullet at Odeh seconds after. Ra’nan filed her video with police in February 2017, but Livneh could find no evidence in the police report that they actually watched the clip.
A 1:49-minute long video shot by an Al Jazeera reporter was also submitted to police. Based on police reports, the investigators stopped the video 20 seconds before it ends. By Dr. Livneh’s account, it is in those final seconds that Odeh is seen reacting to the hit by a sponge-tipped bullet.
In another police report from July 2017, investigators comment on two videos filmed by police, stating that most of the clips were filmed in dark conditions, and that they proceeded to analyze only the segments that included some lighting.
“Every child knows that, using a media player, one can increase the brightness and improve the visibility of a video, this is not something that requires exceptional resources,”
said Dr. Livneh.
“This conduct repeats itself. If I’m capable of increasing the visibility in these videos, so can police investigators,”
Dr. Livneh concludes the report by saying he could not find an explanation for why the officers fired sponge-tipped bullets. He also could not find details regarding the firing incident or the shooters involved. According to police regulations, an officer who uses a firearm must fill out a report. Dr. Livneh could only find three such reports in the police investigation, by officers who were nowhere near Odeh’s shooting. In a separate incident, six residents and activists were hit by sponge-tipped bullets.
However, Dr. Livneh determines that police could still find the officer who shot Odeh. In another video, for example, two officers are seen within Odeh’s vicinity: one of whom was holding what looks like a firearm in a loading or unloading position, and another who was not interrogated by police. In the video that Manor filed, which police refused to examine, the same two officers, joined by another, are seen escaping the shooting scene. Dr. Livneh believes they could be the officers who shot Odeh, who then tried to escape quickly after wounding him.
In Dr. Livneh’s review of the police investigation, he found that there were no less than 10 officers carrying sponge-tipped bullets on site that day. Police had only brought three of those officers for questioning in Odeh’s case. He also writes that had Odeh and the activists been allowed to approach a fatally-wounded Abu al-Qi’an, he may have still been alive.
Dr. Livneh’s report implores police to check whether the decision to close the case “is compatible with the evidence handed to it,” and whether they have indeed run out of leads. He concludes by saying:
“They are overlooking the materials that they themselves invested so much time and effort in collecting. It is unclear why they did not analyze all these materials. The conclusions I’ve arrived at are based on their own evidence. This is not a complicated case requiring special attention, all they have to do is read and watch the materials they themselves have gathered.”
Attorney Noa Levy, with the Public Committee Against Torture, said:
“The Police Internal Investigations Department led a negligent investigation that is typical of it; it refrained from questioning the relevant officers, did not collect all available evidence, and did not analyze them as sufficiently as it could have.”
“We demand that police reopen the case and prosecute the officers responsible for the fatal shooting, for firing stun grenades and tear gas toward a governing member of parliament.”
Newly published evidence from the investigation of a deadly January 2017 incident in the Bedouin town of Umm al-Hiran allegedly shows that a local man was unlawfully shot and then left to bleed to death, as police mistakenly accused him of committing a car-ramming attack.
The State Attorney’s Office in 2018 closed an investigation into the incident, saying it could not determine whether Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an had committed an act of terrorism, after reviewing the entire investigation material. The investigation, led by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, had determined at the time that officers who shot Abu Al-Qia’an moments before his car ran into officer Erez Levi were not suspected of a criminal offense, and had acted legally when they opened fire.
The new details were published Saturday night by several Israeli news outlets, and appeared to be based on an examination by physicist and biologist Dr. Ariel Livne of investigation material provided by the Shin Bet and the Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID).
The conclusions are being used by two rights groups that are legally representing Abu Al-Qia’an’s family, Adalah and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), as the basis for a petition they say they will be filing this week to the High Court of Justice.
The organizations said in a statement Saturday that they will demand that a criminal investigation be reopened into the conduct of the police officers and medics at the scene, and that Abu-Al Qia’an be formally cleared of the “terrorist” branding.
The incident occurred when police arrived to oversee the demolition of homes in Umm al-Hiran, an unrecognized village that the state had been removing in order to clear the way for a new Jewish town.
As officers converged on the town on January 18, 2017, Al-Qia’an, a 47-year-old teacher and father of 12, packed a few belongings into his SUV and drove from his house, saying he could not bear to watch it be razed. Soon afterward, Abu Al-Qia’an was shot by police and the vehicle his was driving then accelerated downhill and rammed into a group of officers.
Activists and others said police had used excessive force in Umm al-Hiran, pointing to what they claimed was institutional racism against Arabs, including Bedouin.
On Saturday, three simultaneous reports were published by the Kan public Broadcaster and the Haaretz and Sicha Mekomit news websites, each not citing sources for most of the information but featuring very similar details of the investigation and quoting a reaction by PCATI.
The reports included hitherto unseen footage taken by officers at the scene, as well as transcripts from the questioning — initially by the Shin Bet and later by the PIID — of police officers and medics who were there. The material, banded together, indicates multiple failures that led to Abu Al-Qia’an’s unnecessary death.
The Shin Bet was said to have concluded within 48 hours that the incident hadn’t been a premeditated attack on police, ending its investigation and handing it over to the PIID.
When it came out, the Shin Bet document caused turmoil among police brass, the Shin Bet and the Justice Ministry, prompting the reopening of the investigation after an internal police probe had cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing in August 2017.
The PIID, which is under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry and not the police, reopened its investigation and re-questioned the officers who were at the scene, submitting its revised findings — apparently contradicting the Shin Bet document — to Nitzan in December 2017. Nitzan closed the case in May 2018.
New footage from the minutes after Abu-Al-Qia’an was shot show him lying bleeding next to his car for dozens of minutes, changing positions — indicating he had been alive — with police officers and medics standing several meters from him and not providing medical treatment. Some later said they assumed him to be an assailant who intentionally ran over Levi.
In one clip, an officer walks past Abu Al-Qia’an and shouts: “You son of a bitch.”
Immediately after the incident, Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan asserted that Abu Al-Qia’an was an Islamic State-inspired terrorist who was shot because he accelerated his vehicle toward a group of police officers, killing Levi.
But video footage that emerged in the hours after the incident showed the officers opened fire before Abu Al-Qia’an sped up, and that his car’s lights were on during the predawn incident, contrary to earlier police assertions. A Channel 10 report at the time said Abu Al-Qia’an’s autopsy further revealed that a police bullet hit him in the right knee, shattering it, and possibly causing the car to accelerate.
In the months following the attack, police doubled down on the claim that Abu Al-Qia’an had deliberately run over and killed the officer.
Alsheich said at the time that there were indications he was involved with the Islamic State terror group.
However, the new details revealed Saturday show that those claims were based only on the presence of standard religious Muslim textbooks in Abu Al-Qia’an’s home, along with three copies of that morning’s Israel Hayom newspaper — the country’s most widely circulating daily — with the headline in Hebrew: “Islamic State bomb downs a plane.”
PIID investigators found no incriminating evidence in Abu Al-Qia’an’s computers, and learned that police had had no early indications of a potential attack during the planned evacuation.
Shin Bet investigators spoke with Abu Al-Qia’an’s father, son and nephew, who all said Yaqoub had told them to refrain from violence and let the forces demolish the home, and that there was nothing to be done against the government’s plans.
That led to a Shin Bet conclusion that Abu Al-Qia’an had no connection to terror groups, and that he had accepted that his home was going to be demolished.
According to the reports, the police officer who shot Abu Al-Qia’an — named only by the first Hebrew-language letter of his first name, “Shin” — told a Shin Bet investigator named Taher shortly after the incident that he had not felt in danger when he fired the shots. Later, he changed his testimony, saying he had felt immediate danger and was forced to shoot.
“The driver turned on the car’s lights and started to slowly drive toward the fighters,”
Shin told Taher.
“I raised my weapon and fired precise shots toward the tires to stop the vehicle. At that stage I hadn’t felt immediate danger to my life or my friends’ lives, because in that case I would have shot to kill. I fired the shots because the driver did not listen to our orders to stop and I feared he would hurt fighters.”
Taher remarked that “Shin claimed the jeep driver could have rammed them while they made their way uphill, but didn’t do that for his own reasons.”
Another Shin Bet investigator, named Ziad, wrote, “I was told by the officer Shin that he had fired toward the tires and later toward the driver.”
According to the investigation, the police medics at the scene first attempted to treat officer Levi but pronounced him dead within a few minutes. They then treated another officer who suffered mild injuries, but for 50 minutes — until they left the scene — never approached Abu Al-Qia’an.
Dr. Maya Forman, who heads the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, determined the cause of death to be “failure to receive medical treatment.” The autopsy report said: “Bleeding from the blood vessels that were damaged in this case does not cause immediate death, and could cause death within dozens of minutes.
Dr. Raphael Walden, deputy director of Sheba Medical Center, said he was “shocked” when he saw the report. “A simple dressing of the wound could have saved his life. This was external bleeding, not internal.”
The police doctor told PIID investigators that she had not seen Abu Al-Qia’an or been aware that there was another wounded person at the scene, only learning that hours later.
“I didn’t see him, I am 100 percent sure,” she said in her testimony. When asked how she didn’t see him when she was so close to him, the doctor added: “It was very dark, there were no lights. There was a whole commotion because our forces thought there had been a terror attack. I didn’t see, I was busy treating the officers.”
Contradicting her, another medic at the scene said that he and the doctor had in fact both noticed Abu Al-Qia’an 15 minutes after they were done treating the policemen, believing him to be dead.
“I didn’t treat him and didn’t see any medic approaching him,” he testified. “I work by orders, and the doctor didn’t tell me to treat him. Looking at him I thought he was dead. I can say with certainty that the doctor saw his body, I think the cause of death was gunfire.”
The PIID investigator then told him:
“He didn’t die from gunfire. The guy died of blood loss over dozens of minutes. That means that had you been aware and done your jobs, he wouldn’t have died. Do you understand the ramifications?
”The medic replied: “Sad. It’s easy to talk now, but at the scene it was believed to be a terror attack.”
Also according to the testimony, the medic initially said he had learned it was a suspected car-ramming attack only when he was back at the police station, but later changed his testimony and said he had “remembered” that he had already known that at the scene.
“The reason I didn’t approach the dead civilian was because there had been a car-ramming, therefore since he is a ‘terrorist’ police safety protocol is not to treat the terrorist since his body could be booby-trapped,” he said.
Another medic claimed he hadn’t seen Abu-Al Qia’an, despite being filmed near him over several minutes.
A Magen David Adom paramedic testified that he was told by the doctor at the scene that there were two bodies, one of a policeman and one of a car-rammer — again contradicting the doctor’s testimony.
“Umm Al-Hiran is an open, bleeding wound in the relationship between the citizens and police in Israel,”
the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel said in a statement Saturday.
“A civilian and a policeman were killed unnecessarily, and the PIID investigation was closed without a criminal investigation. The police commissioner and the public security minister claimed publicly that this was a terror attack, in spite of all the evidence.’
“This affair… is a watershed in the relationship between the police and the Bedouin population in particular and the Israel public in general. In order to begin to repair this fraught relationship, we must first of all return to Umm al-Hiran, bring the policemen to justice, and provide the families of the victims with redress.”
The police force commented that
“this is an unfortunate incident, during which a police officer was rammed to death and another officer was injured and additionally the ramming driver was killed after being neutralized by the officers — all during an operation that was being carried out legally at the place.
“The PIID probe unequivocally concluded that there was no suspicion of criminal offenses committed by any of the police officer who were operating in the field under complex conditions,” it added.