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Autopsy raises questions about death of 'terrorist' in Bedouin clashes: report

Des policiers israélien face aux manifestants bédouins lors d'une opération de démolition à Umm Al Hiran, en Israël, le 18 janvier 2017
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)
An aerial video provided by the police appeared to show him being shot before careering into the officers

An autopsy of the body of an Arab Israeli man who fatally struck a policeman with his car on Wednesday has revealed that his right knee, which had been on the gas pedal, was shattered by a bullet, Israel's Channel 10 News reported on Friday.

Another bullet hit him in the chest, causing him to bleed out for nearly half an hour, the report said.

Channel 10 noted that these findings meant the claim that Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan's foot had been stuck on the pedal and that he did not intend to attack police could not be ruled out.

Police and Israel's public security minister have publicly said the incident was a clear car-ramming attack and that al-Qiyan had been shot in self-defense. 

Friends, family, and colleagues of al-Qayan remain adamant that the 50-year-old has been wrongly accused of being an Islamist terrorist, saying that he had already been fatally shot when he plowed into 34-year-old policeman Erez Levy, killing him. 

Al-Qiyan died Wednesday when police raided the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in order to evacuate residents ahead of demolitions.

Police said he intentionally drove his car into officers with the intent of harming them.

Witnesses in the Bedouin village denied these events, saying police first shot at Qiyan causing him to lose control of the vehicle.

AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)

A police statement said that the "terrorist belongs to the Islamic Movement in the south," and that police were investigating "if the terrorist was influenced by the Islamic State."

Village residents on the scene refuted the police statement, saying the driver was a school vice-principal who had been heading to the scene to talk with authorities in an attempt to halt the demolitions. They claim he was shot at by police before coming near them.

Joint List MK Aida Touma Suleiman told i24NEWS on Wednesday that the police were not allowing herself or other MKs into the village, alleging that they wanted to protect their version of events.

"The people are saying very clearly the person killed was a vice-principal, he was a well-known teacher," she said.

"Then goes out a statement from the police saying that he is ISIS. This is incitement and it should stop now."

Rabbi Arik Ascherman, President abs Senior Rabbi, Rabbis for Human Rights

In a statement to The Jerusalem Post, a nephew of Qiyan said: “We want an apology from those who said he belonged to Islamic State and that he ran over the policeman.”

“What happened was that he lost control after he was shot. We want an independent commission of inquiry so that the truth will come out,” he continued.

Police are currently looking into possible ties to ISIS.

However, the principal at the Salaam school where Qiyan worked, Fuad Abu al-Kaeean, told The Jerusalem Post by telephone on Thursday evening that he was a “man of peace.”

“He was an outstanding teacher, erudite, understanding, with good capabilities, a good person, he loved everyone, a happy person who loved life, a man of peace, not a man of violence. He is not how they are describing him. He loved everyone and did everything for his students. He devoted himself [to others].”

His brother Hammad also told The Jerusalem Post that he believed Qiyan was on his way to the neighboring Bedouin village of Hura.

“He did not want to be in the area during the demolitions. He did not want to stay there,” he said, also noting that the math teacher had his computer and other personal items with him in the car.

An aerial video provided by the police appeared to show him being shot before careering into the officers.

Police said they would not give the body back until a full autopsy had been completed and would not confirm they had placed conditions on returning the body.

MENAHEM KAHANA (AFP)

The Adalah NGO, along with an Arab Israeli parliamentarian, filed a petition with Israel's Supreme Court calling for his body to be released immediately without preconditions.

Family members had been asked to agree to a number of stipulations before returning the body, their lawyer said.

"They want to give the body back only at night, and also to have only a limited number of people at the funeral -- 40-50 people only," Attorney Nadeem Shehadeh from the Adalah NGO told AFP.

They also demanded the funeral not take place in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, where Qiyan came from, but in the nearby town of Hura, Shehadeh said.

Several people were also injured in the clashes that erupted in the early hours on Wednesday morning, including Arab-Israeli MK Ayman Odeh.

(Staff with agencies)

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