Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
Israeli police guard during the demolition of homes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran

Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information Gilad Erdan (Likud) on Thursday responded to reports that the so-called car ramming incident in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev last January was only an accident, saying that should it turn out in the end that it was not a terrorist attack, Israel Police would apologize to the family of the driver who had been killed and would learn the necessary lessons.

On January 17, 2017, during a raid intended to enforce demolition orders against illegal structures in the Bedouin village, Police shot and killed a resident of Umm el-Hiran, Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, believing he drove his vehicle and struck and killed officer Erez Levy, 34. Police also claimed that Abu Qi’an was connected to ISIS.

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However, in his defense, the minister offered a list of clarifications regarding his own pubic condemnation of the driver as terrorist.

First, he, as the minister in charge of the police, relies on the information his troops in the field for information, so whatever they tell him is what he knows.

Second, it is his role as the minister in charge of the police to offer his full support to his troops, no matter the circumstances. It is unacceptable, Erdan argued, that the reports by police be viewed on the same level of reliability as reports from lawbreakers.

Third, the minister reiterated his statement from the time the investigation of the case by the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP) had started, that he was committed to adhere to the conclusions of the investigation, and if there had been mistakes, their lessons would be learned and applied.

However, Erdan refused to accept the version of events presented by several Arab MKs, suggesting the police, which arrived at the village with demolition orders against several structures, hit the ground with violence and brutality from the start. Erdan sees this as sheer intimidation, in an attempt to discourage police from ever again attempting to enforce the law against illegal construction.

“Despite the attacks and wild slanders, I will continue to act in order to enforce law and order across the country, as well as promote co-existence and equality, in which I believe,” Minister Erdan declared. “The event at Umm al-Hiran was difficult, whether it was a terrorist attack or not. We will accept the DIP findings, no matter what they will be, and act accordingly. And should it become clear that this was not a terrorist attack, we will certainly apologize to the family.”

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