The slander and lies that accompanied the lethal shooting of a Bedouin teacher in Umm al-Hiran last month were nothing out of the ordinary. Walking it back won’t be enough.
In the end, it took a looming police internal affairs report for one of Israel’s most senior government ministers to even consider walking back his insistent mislabeling of last month’s double killing in Umm al-Hiran as a terrorist attack. For weeks, even as every single detail of the police’s account of the incident withered in the face of witness testimony and video evidence, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan — along with the police — stuck to their characterization of events as terrorism, all while baselessly invoking the ISIS bogeyman.
Police instantly labeled the January 18 incident — in which Umm al-Hiran resident and teacher Yaqoub Abu al-Qi’an, ahead of a spate of home demolitions in the village, was shot while driving his car, subsequently losing control of his vehicle and running over and killing police officer Erez Levi — a car-ramming attack, a narrative unquestioningly picked up by the Israeli media.
Yet even as the media narrative began to change, driven by investigations published on +972 Magazine and Local Call, the police doubled down, as did Erdan; weeks later, he was still claiming that he believed it was a terror attack. He also saw fit to call on the attorney general to open an investigation into several Palestinian Knesset members — among them Joint List head Ayman Odeh, himself the subject of a litany of police lies exposed by +972’s Mairav Zonszein, surrounding the events in Umm al-Hiran that day — for incitement to violence and even murder. Meanwhile, at Levi’s funeral, Israel’s bumbling police commissioner, Roni Alsheikh, repeated the unfounded claim that Abu al-Qi’an was a violent radical.
It is extremely unlikely that the lone calls for Erdan and Alsheikh’s resignations will be heeded. In a country where the “complexity” of a situation can be cited as justification for giving a soldier an 18-month sentence for executing a Palestinian, authorities are likely to shrug off what will doubtless enter the books as a little name-calling in the wake of a chaotic incident. And inciting against Arabs has, lest we forget, not typically