3 Cops Questioned in the Matter of the Shooting of MK Ayman Odeh

Police authorities have decided to open an investigation into the circumstances of the wounding of Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, chair of the Joint List, during the shooting incident that took place six months ago in the Arab-Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev.

MK Odeh after his wounding by police at Umm al Hiran, January 18, 2017

MK Odeh after his wounding by police at Umm al Hiran, January 18, 2017 (Photo: Al Ittihad)

Odeh, filed a complaint with the Department of Police Investigations after claiming that black sponge bullets had been fired at him. According to a report report broadcast on Channel 10 television, the police decided to open an investigation and three police officers who had previously denied the suspicions against them were summoned and said that MK Odeh “was not telling the truth.” “From the start, the police have had all the material that corroborates my claim, and I call on these authorities to reveal them to the public. Half a year has passed since the attack and it’s time to expose the truth to the public,” MK Odeh said.

For months, Hadash and the Joint List have demanded the establishment of a committee of inquiry to investigate the deadly conduct by police during the January 18 eviction of residents of Umm al-Hiran in the south of Israel. In the course of the operation, the police killed one Arab-Palestinian citizen of Israel, Yacoub Mousa Abu al-Qee’an, 47, after according to police “he allegedly rammed his car intentionally into a group of police officers,” killing one of them, Sergeant Major Erez Levy, 34.

Residents of Umm al-Hiran at the scene denied the police allegation that Abu al-Qee’an, the driver of the van, which rammed the police, did so intentionally. Rather, they contend that Abu al-Qee’an, a high-school teacher of science and mathematics, lost control of his vehicle after police fired at it. The incident took place following clashes in the village when soldiers and officers started demolishing homes and structures. One activist, Israeli mathematician Kobi Snitz, said he witnessed the ramming incident, and “saw a white pickup truck that started driving away from the officers, drove away from them, not toward them.” The Israeli daily Haaretz quoted another eyewitness, Michal Ramati, who reported hearing a several gunshots, before seeing a white car driving away from the scene, the driver of which seemed to have lost control of his vehicle, and eventually hit two officers who were walking up a hill. The car crashed into another vehicle and came to a halt. Yet another eyewitness, Uriel Eisner, 26, an activist at the Center for Jewish Non-Violence, told The Times of Israel that police fired at the vehicle before it began accelerating towards a group of officers. Eisner speculated that the driver was trying to leave the village in order to avoid a confrontation with the police.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, government ministers, based on erroneous information provided by the police, claimed that al-Qee’an was a supporter of ISIS and drew inspiration from that terrorist organization in his alleged ramming attack of police at the scene. The police and politicians subsequently dropped such allegations, but have made no public apology to his widow and family for defaming the slain teacher.