A police officer was killed in the early hours of Wednesday morning during violent clashes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel, while a Bedouin man who police says tried to run over soldiers with his car was also shot dead.
Police and other security forces arrived in the village to carry out a demolition order against illegally constructed homes.
The violence, which included the exchange of gunfire between police and the village's residents, broke out after one resident, Musa Abu Alqiyan, attempted to ram his car into security forces and was shot to death.
A policeman, Sgt. Maj. Erez Levi, 34, was killed in the incident while five others were wounded. Two of those wounded included another policeman and Arab MK Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List party.
“The forces were on their way to operations and had not even started them. While they were on their way, the terrorist sped up his car and carried out a car-ramming attack with devastating results,” she said earlier.
Lapidot added that they the police have certain details about the attacker indicating that he was part of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel and that he might also have had ties with ISIS.
However, family members of Abu Alqiyan professed a conflicting version of events with that provided by the police. According to them, Abu Alqiyan had no intention of harming policemen and even signalled before he turned his vehicle.
“The police opened fire and used grenades and attacked people,” the residents claimed.
MK Taleb Abu Arar slammed what he described as the “killing of a Umm al-Hiran resident in cold blood. The police shot him for no reason. The claims that he tried to run over police are not true.”
Residents fumed over the demolition orders and forced evacuation, promising to remain in their homes at all costs. “We will not leave the homes even if they kill us all. This is our land here and we will not move from here even if we have to pay with our lives.”
Lapidot however, rejected the claims of the residents that the police initiated the violence. “No one attacked anyone. The mission had not even started.”
Asked about the claim that the police fired a rubber bullet, Lapidot said: “The Israel Police does not use rubber bullets in any incident involving Bedouin and obviously it didn’t in this one. It could be that a wound was caused by the rocks thrown by the protestors themselves."
Following the outbreak, the police closed the main entrances to the village while leaders of the Arab sector called on Arab civilians to make their way to the village in order to prevent demolitions.