Top Prosecutor Shuts Case vs Cops Who Killed Man in Umm al-Hiran

The State Attorney’s Office closed on Tuesday, May 1, a renewed investigation into the deadly car-ramming incident at Umm al-Hiran last year, saying it could not determine whether the Arab-Bedouin man “who ran over and killed a police officer and was subsequently killed by other officers had done so deliberately.”

Thousands attend the funeral of Yacoub Musa Abu al-Qee’an in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. Abu al-Qee’an was shot dead by police as security forces demolished homes in the village, January 24, 2017

Thousands attend the funeral of Yacoub Musa Abu al-Qee’an in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. Abu al-Qee’an was shot dead by police as security forces demolished homes in the village, January 24, 2017 (Photo: Activestills)

Israel’s State Attorney Shai Nitzan ruled Tuesday that the police officers who shot to death Yaqoub Musa Abu al-Qee’an in the unrecognized Arab-Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran will not face criminal investigation. Nitzan also ruled that it was not possible to determine whether al-Qee’an “had committed an act of terrorism” when his car struck and killed 34-year-old policeman Erez Levi.

The investigation, led by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, determined that officers who fatally shot Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an during a January 2017 demolition of Al-Qia’an’s Negev village of Umm al-Hiran were not suspected of a criminal offense, and acted legally when they opened fire.

Immediately after the January 2017 murder, far-right Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan asserted that al-qee’an was an “Islamic State inspired terrorist who was shot at because he accelerated his vehicle toward a group of police officers, killing one.”

But video footage that emerged in the hours after the incident showed the officers opened fire before Abu a-Qee’an sped up, and that his car’s lights were on, contrary to police assertions. A Channel 10 report at the time said Abu al-Qee’an’s autopsy further revealed that a police bullet hit him in the right knee, shattering it and caused him to inadvertently hit the gas pedal instead of stopping the car.

In addition to making false claims about the circumstances of al-Qee’an’s death, Joint List Chairman, MK Ayman Odeh, who was wounded by the police at the location of the deadly shooting hours on, claimed that Israeli officials lied when the contended that he “had been struck by protesters’ stones.”

“The police and government’s lies and incitement continue to be exposed,” MK Odeh said last November, responding to the release of the footage. “Everything we claimed from the very start has turned out to be true. The responsibility for the terrible losses of the Abu al-Qee’an and Levi families is entirely on Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh.”

On Tuesday, MK Odeh, slammed the State Attorney’s Office for closing its probe into the police officers who shot and killed al-Qia’an.” Once again the Police Internal Affairs Department and the State Attorney’s Office are abandoning their pursuit of truth when the lives of Arab citizens are on the line,” he said in a statement.

“The important questions have not been answered: Why does it make sense to carry out an evacuation in pitch dark [the demolition took place in early morning hours] with loaded firearms? Why does it make sense that Yaqoub Abu al-Qee’an was denied medical care after the shooting? What reason did Alsheich and Erdan have for launching a public campaign of incitement again al-Qee’an immediately after the incident? They’re the real culprits behind the bloodshed.”

“Officer Erez Levi was buried in a military cemetery and recognized as a fallen member of the Israeli armed forces. But my husband, an award-winning educator, was accused of being a terrorist, and we were left abandoned,” al-Qee’an’s widow, Dr. Amal Sa’ad, said during her speech at the joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony held in Tel Aviv in April. “I’m raising six young children alone and no one has taken responsibility for the disaster that occurred.”

Related: Posts on the struggle to save Umm-al-Hiran and the shooting death of Yaqoub Musa Abu al-Qee’an