Probe into police slaying of Palestinian math teacher to close

Israel’s justice ministry intends to close a probe into the January killing of a Palestinian citizen by police in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel.

For a second time the ministry’s police investigations unit has recommended to state prosecutors that no charges be filed against police.

Israeli police assert that Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan, a 50-year-old math teacher, deliberately ran over and killed a police officer, 37-year-old Erez Levi.

“Verification of killing”

However, analysis by the UK-based research group Forensic Architecture indicates that Abu al-Qiyan was driving slowly and his vehicle only accelerated after he was shot at by police, suggesting he lost control of his car.

Candid photograph of smiling man

Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan (Mossawa)

In one of the recordings, a single gunshot can be heard after Abu al-Qiyan’s car comes to a stop.

“This last shot is consistent with what the Israeli security personnel calls ‘verification of killing’ – the shooting to kill of already neutralized people,” according to Forensic Architecture.

Adalah, a rights group which filed a request for an investigation by the justice ministry’s police conduct unit into Abu al-Qiyan’s slaying, protested the recommended closure of the probe.

“The closure of this investigation means the [Police Investigations Department] continues to grant legitimacy to deadly police violence against Arab citizens of Israel,” Adalah stated.

“Though it was clear from day one that officers opened fire on a civilian without justification and in contravention of the police’s own open-fire regulations, it appears as if the [Police Investigations Department] is again whitewashing the most serious incidents.”

No police officer has been held responsible in more than 50 cases of Palestinian citizens killed by police since 2000, according to Adalah.

Home demolition raid

Abu al-Qiyan was killed as Israeli forces were preparing to demolish several buildings in Umm al-Hiran.

The Israeli government seeks to evacuate the Palestinian Bedouin village in order to build a Jewish settlement in its place.

Several demonstrators – including Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset – were injured by sponge-tipped bullets and other weapons fired by police during the raid.

Israeli media have reported that the police conduct unit will also recommend closing an investigation of officers suspected of assaulting the Palestinian lawmaker.

Police and senior Israeli government officials wasted no time in framing Abu al-Qiyan as a terrorist immediately after his death.

Despite repeated requests, the Israeli justice ministry police conduct unit has not given Abu al-Qiyan’s widow a copy of her late husband’s autopsy report, according to Adalah.

Odeh told the Israeli daily Haaretz that he had little expectation that the police who shot Abu al-Qiyan and prevented him from receiving first aid, leaving him to bleed to death, would be held accountable for their actions.

“Shouldn’t someone also be punished for that?” Odeh stated.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.