Israel police shot innocent Bedouin teacher and 'left him to die'

Israel police shot innocent Bedouin teacher and 'left him to die'
Yacoub Abu Al-Qiyan was shot dead in 2017 while Israeli authorities conducted home demolitions in the Bedouin village Umm al-Hiran.
3 min read
25 February, 2020
The 50-year-old teacher had cautioned his family against violence [Getty]
Israeli police shot an innocent Bedouin teacher and left him to bleed to death, holding back medical treatment that might have saved his life, evidence unearthed by Haaretz has revealed.

Yacoub Abu Al-Qiyan, aged 50, was killed in 2017 when police launched a pre-dawn raid on the Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran with the aim of demolishing several homes Israel claims were built without planning permission.

Authorities claimed the Bedouin teacher had driven his car into a police vehicle, with an officer reportedly shooting at Qiyan in an attempt to slow it.

After Qiyan was shot dead, police claimed he was a "terrorist from the Islamic Movement" and suggested he had links to the Islamic State group. 

But locals cast doubt on those claims and protested against the killing.

A justice ministry investigation cleared the police of wrongdoing in 2018.

A new investigation by Israeli newspaper Haaretz appears to show that authorities failed to provide Qiyan with medical attention after he was shot, leaving him to bleed to death on the road.

The investigation, which relied upon materials gathered by the justice ministry investigative unit and Israel's Shin Bet security agency, also alleges that the police officer involved shot Qiyan before his vehicle accelerated, ultimately causing the crash that killed his colleague without cause.

The police officer who shot Qiyan told Shin Bet investigators shortly after the deadly incident that he had not feared for his life.

Mourners attend Qiyan's funeral in 2017 [Getty]

"At the point when I shot at the car, I did not feel any immediate threat to my life or my peers, because if I did I would have shot at the driver with the intent to kill him," he said. "I fired my gun because the driver didn't answer our calls to stop, and we feared he could hurt other police who were on their way."

Another police officer told security agents that Qiyan's car did not speed up towards the police until after he had been shot at.

"When the vehicle reached 'S.', he shot at the tires. With the gunshot, the driver of the Landcruiser picked up speed and sped very quickly down the road," the officer said.

Investigators also spoke to Qiyan's family, who told them he had explicitly cautioned people against violence in resisting home demolitions in the area.

"I heard Yacoub say that if the state wanted to destroy the home, let it do so, not to engage in violence," his nephew said.

Testimonies from his family members led the Shin Bet to conclude Qiyan had no affiliation with IS or other extremist groups, and had no plan to violently resist the home demolitions.

'Left to die'

An autopsy found that Qiyan bled to death after he was shot in the back and his right knee.

The Haaretz investigation found that authorities on the scene failed to give the teacher medical treatment.

A medic who treated the wounded police officers said she had not been told there was another injured man at the scene.

On the contrary, a police commander had described him as an "x" at the scene, meaning deceased, despite the fact no one had pronounced him dead.

"I only dealt with the police officers. For the duration of 50 minutes that I treated them, they didn't mention another wounded person," the medic described.

"Only at around 10:30 [five hours after the two killings] I heard that there is another casualty and a dead driver who ran over the cops. I didn't see him."

Another medic was pressed by sceptical investigators who did not believe claims he had not seen Qiyan bleeding to death. A senior police officer claimed that the teacher had not received medical attention as police suspected his car could be booby-trapped.

Investigators from both the justice ministry and Shin Bet concluded that Qiyan likely would not have died if he had received prompt medical attention at the scene.

Read more: No prospects for justice a year after killing of Palestinian teacher in Umm al-Hiran

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