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Israeli police close probe into January killing of Palestinian teacher

Dec. 30, 2017 3:40 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 2, 2018 2:37 P.M.)
Palestinian women in Umm al-Hiran mourn death of Abu al-Qian in January (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli Police Investigations Division (PID) has decided to close its probe into the January police killing of Palestinian math teacher Yaqoub Abu al-Qian, and to not hold any officers responsible for his death, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said in a statement on Thursday.

Abu al-Qian, a 50-year-old math teacher from the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel’s Negev desert, was shot dead by Israeli police in January while he was driving at night, causing him to spin out of control and crash into Israeli officers, killing one policeman.

Abu al-Qian was driving through the village as dozens of Israeli forces were preparing for a large-scale home demolition in Umm al-Hiran. Israeli forces at the time claimed he was attempted to carry out a vehicular attack, though witness testimonies and video footage of the incident proved contradictory to police accusations.

Israeli police footage appeared to show police officers shooting at al-Qian as he was driving at a very slow pace, and only several seconds after the gunfire does his car appear to speed up, eventfully plowing through police officers.

The killing of Abu al-Qian sparked widespread outrage amongst Palestinian civilians and politicians, who claimed he was “extrajudicially executed.

After demands from his family and the community for police to conduct a probe into his killing, Adalah filed a request demanding the PID open an investigation into the death of Abu al-Qian.

“The closure of this investigation means the PID continues to grant legitimacy to deadly police violence against Arab citizens of Israel,” Adalah said in it’s statement.

“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 PID is again whitewashing the most serious incidents. Just as the PID failed to hold any officers responsible for the October 2000 killings and the subsequent police killings of more than 50 Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, this latest decision is further indication of the systemic failure of the PID.”

"The Israeli police and public security minister continue to propagate the same lie they initially promoted the day of the killing, according to which the incident was an intentional vehicular ramming attack against Israeli police officers. This lie was repeatedly refuted by multiple sources and video documentation of the incident,” Adalah added.

Abu al-Qian’s hometown of Umm al-Hiran is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state, and more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.

The unrecognized Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the state of Israel.

Now more than 60 years later, the villages have yet to be recognized by Israel and live under constant threats of demolition and forcible removal.

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