by Andrew Friedman
The High Court of Justice has ordered the Defense Ministry to release the body of Ya’akub Musa Abu al-Qi’an, who was killed in a clash with police during last week’s demolition of the Umm al-Hiran unauthorized village in the Negev.
Police say Abu al-Qi’an was shot in the midst of a vehicular terror attack that left police officer Staff Sgt. Erez Levi, dead and several injured, including Joint List MK Ayman Odeh. But sources in the Arab community say that forensic evidence does not support that claim and argue instead that police shot to kill without a clear threat to their lives.
The Court did not put any restrictions on the burial proceedings, which are expected to take place at the Muslim cemetery near Shoket Junction in the northern Negev. Funeral arrangements have not been announced yet.
MK Odeh, chairman of the Joint Arab List Knesset faction, praised the decision to release the body, saying “I am happy the court has refused to allow itself to be dragged into the police’s incitement and lies and gave the Elkayan family the most basic right: To mourn with dignity.”
The police stated that in the spirit of upholding security and public safety, it will respect the decision of the Court and endeavor to prepare for the funeral under the conditions that were legally set.
According to the findings of an autopsy conducted at Abu Kabir, Al-Qi’an was wounded and ultimately killed by a bullet to the chest. However, he was also shot in the right knee, possibly causing him to floor the gas pedal and lose control of his vehicle when his car ran over Sgt. Levi.
The autopsy result, reported by Israel’s Channel 10 television news, raises a question about whether the officer’s death was due to an intended ramming attack, or a tragic accident due to gunfire. Arab witnesses at the scene said police officers fired at al-Qi’an before the car accelerated. Police maintain that the driver was already in motion and heading towards officers with the vehicle, with others firing at him in order to stop him.
Aerial footage of the incident, combined with a completed ballistic report, is expected to help the Police Internal Investigations Department determine when and with which officer’s weapon al-Qi’an’s knee was shot.
Hana Levi Julian contributed content to this report.