Tony Greenstein | 10 August 2019 | Post Views:

It is time for Israel to put an end to their Blood Libel at Umm-al-Hiran

The Police murder of a Palestinian teacher must now be admitted

Residents look at the remains of homes demolished in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel, January 25, 2017.Alex Levac

If anyone wants to know why Israel is not a normal western state then what happened in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran should be an object lesson.

Umm al-Hiran is one of about 50 Arab villages in Israel which is ‘unrecognised’. What this means is that those who live in these villages have no legal right to do so. They may be able to stay but then again they may not.

There is of course no such thing as an ‘unrecognised’ Jewish village. By definition Jews have the right to live where they want. After all their right is god given.

Being ‘unrecognised’ means that the village was not connected to the national water mains, electricity or power supply. Everything it had was built by the residents themselves. However the new Jewish town of Hiran will have all these facilities and more.

Israel’s Palestinians are there on sufferance. The villagers of Umm al-Hiran were moved by military order to Wadi Atir in 1956. They built stone houses, paved roads, built wells and farmed the surrounding land. Sheikh Farhoud Abu al Qi’an argued that before their arrival “It was a desert, with no roads, water, houses or services

Aymen Odeh, leader of the Joint List, made up of the mainly Arab parties is deliberately shot at close range with a sponge bullet by the Israeli Police

In 2001, the Israel Land Authority described its residents as a “special obstacle“. In 2003 the Israeli state applied to the Magistrates’ Court in Beersheba for the demolition of the village ex parte, without informing the landowners. In 2004, the state filed lawsuits to evacuate the villagers on the basis that they were trespassers who were squatting illegally. The court ruled that the legal status of the residents was as “permanent residents”, but at the same time concluded that because the land was held from the state free of charge, their residency could be revoked at any time. The Prime Minister’s Office had also previously blocked a plan to recognise the neighbouring village of Atir, which shares land with Umm al-Hiran, requesting instead that the plan did not clash with the proposal to establish a Jewish town.

The proposal would relocate the Bedouins of Umm al-Hiran to the Bedouin township of Hura, one of seven Bedouintownships, all of which are at the bottom of the country’s socio-economic index. These townships are specifically designated towns intended to “contain” expelled Bedouins. They are characterised by being overcrowded, lacking in adequate services and having the highest percentage ofunemployment and poverty in Israel.

Umm al-Hiran is in Israel’s Negev desert (not the Occupied West Bank or Gaza) which, after over 60 years, was demolished in order to make way for the ‘Jewish’ town of Hiran

Raba Abu al-Kiyan, the widow of Yakub, next to the rubble of their home in Umm al-Hiran. Alex Levac

The Negev is largely unoccupied.  Few Jews want to live there.  It would have been easy to  build a Jewish town next to Umm al Hiran but that would have defeated another racist master plan, the Prawer Plan.  It is an article of faith amongst Israel’s planners and demographers that the Negev must be Judified.  In other words Arabs must be confined to their own shanty towns at the disposal of Israeli industry.  

I have covered what happened at Umm al Hiran before, in a number of blogs

The Demolition of an Israeli Arab village is why Israel is an Apartheid State & why a racist state has no ‘right to exist’

The Demolition of Um al Hiran in Israel’s Negev is why Israel is a racist, settler colonial state , Better to be a dog than Bedouin in Israel – The Story of Umm al-Hiran and the Bedouin of the Negev (Naqab)

The Demolition of al-Hiran, A Bedouin Village in the Israel’s Negev Desert.

This is Zionism – The Demolition of Umm al-Hiran.

On January 18th 2017 a large force of Israeli police accompanied by bulldozers attacked the village. Not unnaturally the villagers resisted.

During the raid a Palestinian school teacher Yaqub Musa Abu alQi’an, began driving his car slowly away from his home. His car was raked with gunfire and he lost control and the car rolled down the hill and killed a policeman. Yaqub who was bleeding heavily was allowed to die.

What later happened was that the Israeli police and the security minister Gilad Erdan started inventing a fable that Yaqub was a member of ISIS. They had no evidence of this. They alleged he deliberately killed the policeman.

It has now been conclusively proven that the killing of the policeman was a consequence of the police having opened fire and not, as Erdan and others alleged a deliberate assassination.

What happened in Umm al Hiran, where the leader of the Palestinian Joint List in the Knesset, Aymen Odeh was shot with a sponge bullet by the Israeli police, has now been investigated by a Forensic Architecture team led by Eyal Weizman.

It has been conclusively proven that Yaqub did not deliberately kill the Israeli policeman despite repeated accusations that he was a ‘terrorist’.

The Ha’aretz editorial below demanded that the Israeli state now acknowledge what they have done and compensate the family.

Of course the greater injustice, the forcible removal of a Bedouin village to make way for an Orthodox Jewish town remains

Tony Greenstein

Israel Must Put an End to Bedouin Village Blood Libel

Haaretz Editorial
Jun 04, 2019 3:53 AM

File photo: Israeli policemen stand guard next to a vehicle that rammed into a group of policemen in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, Israel, January 18, 2017. AP

Israel must apologize formally to the family of Yakub Abu al-Kiyan and compensate it for his death. The state must also retract the blood libel it spread about the teacher from Umm al-Hiran. All this is required by the release of the final conclusions of an investigation into the January 2017 eviction of the village’s residents, during which Abu al-Kiyan and Erez Levi, an Israeli police officer, were killed.

An analysis of footage from police body cameras, the cameras of journalists and left-wing activists at the scene and from a police helicopter supports the conclusion reached by the Shin Bet security service and the Justice Ministry department that investigates alleged police misconduct: Contrary to the claims of then-Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Abu al-Kiyan did not intentionally hit Levi with his car, in a terror attack. The analysis also supports Hadash-Ta’al Chairman Ayman Odeh’s contention that he was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet at the scene after the incident.

The Israeli police spokesman alleged that Yaqub was a murderer and terrorist, something that Erdan also claimed

“Our analysis shows unequivocally that this wasn’t a terror attack or anything resembling one,” said Prof. Eyal Weizman, whose Forensic Architecture agency at Goldsmiths, University in London, investigated the incident. Weizman explained that Abu al-Kiyan hit Levi with his car because he lost control of it after being shot and wounded. As a result, Abu al-Kiyan bled to death, without any of the policemen lifting a finger to help him. This fact underscores the importance of the incident with Odeh, Weizman added, “since he and other activists were nearby and sought to reach [Abu al-Kiyan] to give him first aid, which could have saved his life.”

The Justice Ministry department at one point recommended that one of the policemen who opened fire be questioned as a criminal suspect in Abu al-Kiyan’s death, in light of evidence obtained from the Shin Bet. But that recommendation was rejected by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who apparently caved in to pressure from the police commissioner after Alsheich doubled down on his baseless accusation that Abu al-Kiyan was a terrorist.

Weizman blamed the Justice Ministry department, saying that had its personnel “dealt with the evidence the way we dealt with it, they would have seen clearly that the police were responsible for the deaths of Abu al-Kiyan and Erez Levi, as well as for Odeh’s serious injuries.” Instead, he continued, “What we saw was an ongoing attempt to manipulate the evidence, including by not handing over evidence.”

Given the results of this investigation, Israel must officially clear Abu al-Kiyan of all guilt and apologize to his family for the false accusations hurled at him. It must also compensate the family for the fact that he was shot, wounded and bled to death without being offered medical care that might have saved his life as well as for the smearing of his reputation and his memory, which exacerbated the crime of his killing. Finally, it must investigate everyone involved, both those who fired and those who perpetrated the cover-up, and see to the prosecution of everyone responsible for the scandalous handling of this painful affair.

New Footage Sheds Light on Fraught, Fatal 2017 Episode in Bedouin Village

U.K. forensic organization releases video of incident in which a local resident and a police officer were killed and an Arab lawmaker wounded, during the evacuation of Umm al-Hiran

Josh Breiner

Jun 03, 2019 10:16 PM

Israel Police entering Umm al-Hiran in advance of the evacuation, on January 18, 2017.Keren Manor / Activestills

The final chapter of an investigation into an incident in a Negev Bedouin village in 2017, in which two people were killed, was publicized Monday by British forensic experts. The two victims killed during the Israeli security forces’ evacuation of Umm al-Hiran, in advance of its planned demolition, were a local teacher, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, and police officer Erez Levy.

Compiled by the U.K.-based Forensic Architecture research organization, the report features images from body cameras worn by Israel Police officers at the scene on January 18, 2017, immediately after Abu al-Kiyan – who was shot while driving and then lost control of his vehicle – ran over Levy and killed him.

Original assessments by politicians and other officials were that this was a deliberate, car-ramming attack.

The new investigation, headed by Prof. Eyal Weizman of Goldsmiths, University of London, was also based on footage from the cameras of journalists (including documentary photography collective Activestills), local residents and left-wing activists who were present during the evacuation – and from a police helicopter. These materials, backed by digital analyses by Forensic Architecture, support the theory of the Justice Ministry’s department for investigation of the police, as well as of the Shin Bet security service, that Abu al-Kiyan was not trying to run over Levy as a terrorist act.

Forensic Architecture

The images also confirm the version of events provided by Knesset member Ayman Odeh, then-chairman of the Joint List party, who was also in Umm al-Hiran that day and claims he was hit in the head then by a sponge-tipped bullet.

The newly released footage from policemen’s body cameras shows Abu al-Kiyan losing control of his vehicle after he was shot. The vehicle proceeds on its way at high speed and shots can be heard in the background. After a few seconds the vehicle stops and its horn starts honking. A policeman can be seen opening the door and removing Abu al-Kiyan.

The Forensic Architecture report rules out the possibility that Abu al-Kiyan was shot by a police officer at close range, calling it “unreasonable,” and reveals new information about developments near the scene, including the incident with Odeh. The police have denied that sponge-tipped bullets were fired at him and said demonstrators had been throwing rocks, one of which hit the MK.

The authors of the report say the police investigation department of the Justice Ministry failed to give Odeh’s lawyers three videos taken by the police at Umm al-Hiran, which could have shed light on the incident; the written transcript of testimonies by policemen lacked statements relating to the incident as well, they note. One video clip from the police was broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10 television last year, but it was edited, omitting the seconds when Odeh was apparently injured.

The clash between security forces and Odeh and left-wing activists occurred seconds after Abu al-Kiyan was shot and Levy was run over, as the activists tried to approach the site.

The new investigatory materials (and others) were collected by Forensic Architecture in collaboration with the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, which is providing legal representation to Odeh. After the case was closed against the policemen involved in the incident involving him, theMK’s lawyers submitted an appeal in March. Now, with publication of the new information, it is likely that the investigation of Odeh’s injury will be reopened.

As to the circumstances surrounding Abu al-Kiyan’s death, the Justice Ministry department had recommended that one of the policemen who fired his weapon be questioned under caution, based on information from the Shin Bet. However, the prosecution closed the case and never questioned anybody about firing the lethal shot.

Eyal Weizman, a professor of spatial and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, says Forensic Architecture’s analysis categorically shows that Abu al-Kiyan was in no way motivated by terrorist intentions when he ran over Levy; he had lost control of his vehicle after being shot, whereupon he bled to death because the security forces did not attend to him.

“That is why the incident with Odeh is so important, as he and other activists were right there and tried to get to him [Abu al-Kiyan] to help him, which could have saved his life,” says Weizman, adding that he and his co-researchers found an abundance of photographic and other evidence of the evacuation of Umm al-Hiran on that fateful day.

It is unusual to get footage from so many angles regarding a single incident,” he says. “If the Justice Ministry’s department had related to the evidence like we do, they would have clearly seen that the police were responsible for the deaths of Abu al-Kiyan and Erez Levy, and for Odeh’s serious injuries. What we see is a persistent effort to manipulate the evidence, including the failure to provide evidence. The policeman who shot live bullets at Abu-Kiyan and the one who shot at Odeh should be put on trial.”

For its part, after receiving the new information, the department for investigation of the police at the Justice Ministry commented that the plaintiffs had not made additional requests or reported anything missing from the testimony originally submitted in the case.

“In the appeal, the claim was raised for the first time that video footage was missing,” according to the department’s statement. “To the best of our knowledge, the material was transferred in full. If, however, material is missing, those making the appeal should submit it.”

Forensics Architecture will be displaying some of the images from its investigation of the Umm al-Hiran incident at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, as part of its 2019 biennial, through September.See also

·         Umm al-Hiran: A cautionary tale of an Israeli government emboldened by Trump

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Tony Greenstein

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