Police said Yaqub al-Qi’an’s headlights were switched off when police officers shot at his car. A video analysis by Forensic Architecture and Activestills appears to disprove that claim.
By John Brown*
Israeli police’s official version of the events that led to the death of two people — a Bedouin citizen of Israel and a police officer — in the village of Umm el-Hiran last month continues to be undermined by facts and documentary evidence.
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Almost every element of the story police relayed in the hours after the deadly incident has been repudiated in various media reports and investigations. Now, it seems the police claim that Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an was driving with his lights off, which allegedly made police suspect he was carrying out a vehicular attack, is most likely untrue as well.
Israeli authorities say that Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an intentionally accelerated toward a group of police officers who had amassed to demolish his entire village, and plowed into them, killing officer Erez Levi. But eyewitnesses accounts and video evidence indicate that police opened fire on Abu al-Qi’an’s vehicle before it sped up and that the car struck police as a result of the driver losing control.
The second part of a video analysis investigation conducted by Activestills and Forensic Architecture, who shot and collected various angles of video of the incident, indicates that the headlights of Abu al-Qi’an’s vehicle were indeed switched on when officers shot him.
The forensic analysis is based on newly discovered video published by Al Jazeera. Analysts at Forensic Architecture put the video alongside another angle of the incident captured by Activestills photographer Keren Manor and aerial footage released by police.
The video shows Abu al-Qi’an’s vehicle, after three shots were fired at it, heading down a slope with its headlights on — before striking any police officers.
A previous analysis by Forensic Architecture and Activestills found that Abu al-Qi’an’s vehicle only sped up after being shot at by police, casting doubt on the police’s narrative that officers thought they were preventing a vehicular attack and lending credence to the theory that he lost control of his vehicle because he had been shot, only running into a group of officers once he was incapacitated or had lost control.
Police also initially claimed that Abu al-Qi’an had ties to ISIS, but the only evidence they provided backing up that claim was the fact that three copies of the Israel Hayom newspaper with headlines about ISIS were found in his home. That claim now appears to have been quietly dropped.
Umm al-Hiran is one of dozens of so-called “unrecognized villages” in Israel’s south, in which approximately 100,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel live without electricity, water, and other basic services the state refuses to provide.
State authorities came to demolish the village and its dozens of homes last month after residents lost a years-long legal battle to save their homes. In the place of the Bedouin town, Israel plans to build a Jewish town — named “Hiran” in its place.
*John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and a blogger. This story first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call, where he is a blogger. Read it here.