The Israeli police’s extrajudicial execution of Israeli citizen Yaqoub Abu Al-Qia’an

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Details of the autopsy of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, who was killed during Israel’s ethnic cleansing operation at Umm Al-Hiran on Wednesday, were publicized by Israeli Channel 10 on Friday (Hebrew source of Channel 10 here).

The schoolteacher Al-Qia’an had been shot several times by police whilst driving slowly, then accelerating, rolling down a hill and hitting several policemen, causing the death of one policeman, 1st Sgt. Erez Levi.

Whilst the authorities immediately framed Al -Qia’an’s alleged ramming as an act of terror (even suggesting ISIS affiliation due to a few Hebrew newspaper scraps found in his home, mentioning ISIS bombings), eyewitness accounts as well as later released police helicopter video and other footages cast serious doubt about the narrative.

The forensic report said that Al-Qia’an was hit by two bullets – one to his knee, another to his chest.

The shot to the knee, that is the right knee, may well have been the first hit, which would have accounted for his sudden acceleration, as that was the leg on the gas pedal. The bullet to the chest (nonetheless not hitting vital organs) is very likely the last shot, which was taken after the car hit another and came to a full stop, a shot which could be determined as ‘confirmation of killing’. Whilst I apply speculation here, the autopsy reveals an uncontroversial fact: That Al-Qia’an did not die immediately. He died from bleeding for over 20 minutes, as he was left unattended, despite the fact that there were three mobile intensive care units on scene.

Before I return to the scene and other video evidence, let us note here, that this manner of treating assumed ‘terrorists’ is a pattern that has been seen several times on tape during the wave of alleged attacks in the past year and a half. Men, women and children are left to bleed to death. Regardless of the details, one can already say with confidence, that Al-Qia’an was executed. As Yaqoub’s brother, Ahmed, said in response to the autopsy findings: “They murdered him not once but several times. They murdered him when they shot him and they murdered him when they left him in the car bleeding, and they murdered him when they said he rammed the car [into the police officers].” Indeed, the official narrative about Al-Qia’an appears to be not only a physical assassination, but also a character assassination.

Already on Thursday, Israeli Local Call’s John Brown publicized (in Hebrew) an article containing an amazingly precise video made by London based Forensic Architecture, which applied both the police helicopter video (which lacked sound), synchronized with sound and matched with footage from further down the hill by ActiveStills camerawoman Keren Manor. The video result is here. Analysis of trajectories indicates that the police’s version of the first three shots being warning shots in the air, is false. Those three shots were aimed at the car itself. A few seconds later Al-Qia’an accelerates down the hill. From the moment of the first shot to the point where the car hits another, and comes to full stop, 13 seconds pass. In those 13 seconds, four other shots are fired at the car. After the car stops, a few sporadic shots are fired from a distance, and after a short pause, about 49 seconds after the first shots were fired, another single shot is fired, corresponding with the aerial image of a policeman standing near the driver and shooting at close range.

It is very likely, that this is the shot that hit Al-Qia’an’s chest (perhaps believed to have hit his heart).

But once again, let me reiterate: whether the police believed that he was dead at the point or not, leaving him to bleed to death amounts to his execution.


Umm al-Hiran – 18 January 2017_Hebrew from Forensic Architecture on Vimeo.

With the release of this damning evidence, the police were enraged. They had already shot a Palestinian minister of Knesset, Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, in the face with rubber-coated bullets at Umm Al-Hiran, and now they were also directly inciting against him, as well as discrediting the video.

On Friday they tweeted publicly (in Hebrew) to Odeh: “@AyOdeh, strategic editing will not alter reality. Footage of the attack proved an intent to murder policemen. It has one name: Terror. No video clip which skews the details can change that”. (Re-tweet from Ayman Odeh here).

This is the pathetic, infantile level of the Israeli police, matching the rhetoric of the deputy commander of the police southern district, Peretz Amar, in the immediate wake of the event, calling it “a deliberate attack. This is clear. This is a fact. There is no other explanation, and anyone who tries to offer an alternative explanation wasn’t here at the time and doesn’t understand”, as I had reported earlier. But these are no mere babies. They are armed to the teeth. And if this is the level of their leadership, what are we to think of their operatives on the ground?

Indeed, Member of Knesset Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) called for an independent commission of inquiry into government and police actions in the Umm al-Hiran affair:

“At the beginning of this unfortunate incident it was quite obvious that the police and the public security minister are rushing their statements and are not taking into consideration that they really don’t know all the circumstances yet. So for them to categorically label this a terrorist attack from the very beginning was way too soon. We still don’t know. Sometimes it takes some time to understand and analyze. It seems that the statements of top policemen, Roni Alsheich and others, are influenced by politics, and this is very unfortunate because the citizens of Israel need to know they can trust the police.”

Very reasonable words. Can one trust such a police force? Svetlova, ingenuously, draws parallels to the Elor Azarya Murder case which almost immediately became a ‘manslaughter case’.

“If it will be proven that Abu al-Qia’an died bleeding while there were so many people around him and nobody rushed to help him, then it’s Azaria case No. 2 – this is how it looks. In one incident a terrorist was shot, and here we have a citizen of whom it is not proven whether he’s a terrorist or not, an Israeli citizen who dies and no one rushes to give him medical attention.”

Ironically, whilst Svetlova’s words are no doubt sincere from her point of view, she subscribes uncritically to the ‘terrorist’ narrative regarding the Azarya case (as did the judge). As I had have been pointing out, such definition doesn’t really seem to apply in that case, as Michael Lesher wrote in Times of Israel:

And as for the insult Judge Maya Heller added to the injury of the inadequate conviction, by casually referring to Azaria’s victim as a “terrorist” – though apart from self-serving soldiers’ testimony the IDF has presented no real evidence that the slain man ever harmed anyone, and even though an attack on a uniformed soldier in occupied territory is not “terrorism” under international law – no, there isn’t a chance the media will mention that.

There are further accounts that seriously contradict the ‘terrorist’ narrative of the police (noted in both Local Call and i24News): Al-Qia’an had left his house which was due to be demolished, at just after 5:30 in the morning, driving towards his mother’s house in nearby Hura. He had various personal belongings, including his computer, money, documents and even students’ tests for grading. On the face of it, it would appear that Al-Qia’an was attempting to get out of the village, not witness the demolition of his house, and save a few belongings which were important to him. It appears highly unlikely that he planned a suicide attack (car ramming in such a scenario is, for all practical purposes, a suicide attack), and yet cared to bring with him such personal belongings that he knew would be confiscated anyway afterwards.

So many doubts– so much that speaks against the police narrative, without even mentioning the execution issue.

But the police clutch the ‘terror’ narrative, and apply the same draconian measures applied only to non-Jewish ‘terrorists’: They withhold the body. “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 Adalah told AFP. “They also demanded the funeral not take place in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, where Qia’an came from, but in the nearby town of Hura”, Shehadeh said.

It seems that the police and government’s ‘terror’ narrative serves multiple purposes:

It incites against the Palestinian population, even when we are speaking of citizens of the state. It incites against those who question the narrative, including Jewish Israelis who were eyewitnesses and countered the narrative from the start. It incites against lawmakers who are critical of the whole conduct. It diverts attention from the institutional racism and ethnic cleansing in the very act of demolishing a Bedouin village in order to erect a Jewish one upon its very ruins. And finally, it diverts attention from yet another extrajudicial execution.  

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Thanks for this, Jonathan. There are so many outrageous (and typical) elements in this story that one hardly knows where to begin. Perhaps the most astonishing fact is that this series of appalling wrongs by the Israeli government — ethnic cleansing of the community in 1948, continuing interference with its natural development, targeting for more ethnic cleansing in recent months, breathtakingly callous home demolitions, brutal repression of nonviolent protest, attack on a legislator, and then… Read more »

” They murdered him when they shot him and they murdered him when they left him in the car bleeding.. ”

Not so outrageous when you consider that the mobile intensive care units were busy administering aid to several wounded policemen.

Palestinian incitement pales in comparison to Israeli incitement. It pales because Israelis have the easy access to weapons. While we do see the occassional statement from Palestinian leaders which can fall into incitement but it is a regular and frequent occurrence fro m the GoI. While they make much of Palestinian incitement and the msm portrays international calls as being directed at the Palestinian side the calls have generally been directed at both sides. Just… Read more »

Extra judicial execution seems wrong in this case. This is more of a case of flat out murder