Erdan ready to issue apology to bereaved Bedouin family
Public security minister justifies his original labelling of a Bedouin man who was shot to death in Umm al-Hiran last month by police as a terrorist, insisting that they were based on information provided by witnesses from the scene: However, Erdan acknowledges that an apology will have to be issued if investigation concludes that the deceased was not engaged in an attempted terror attack.
“It was a difficult incident, whether it was an attack or not. We will accept the conclusions of the Police Investigations Unit (PIU), whatever they may be, and act accordingly.”
Erdan’s comments were made in relation to an incident that occurred on January 18, when a police force arrived on scene to secure illegal home demolitions in the village.
During the operation, a vehicle approached the police force, which roused the officers' suspicion.
They opened fire, injuring the driver, who then sped up in his vehicle and ran over and killed Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, who was on the task force. Al-Qiyan, 47, died later of his wounds.
Immediately after police originally claimed that al-Qiyan was shot while attempting to vehicular terror attack, and alleged that he had links with an Islamic terror movement, his family members and friends fiercely denied the allegations, claiming that he was shot without cause.
Indeed, it was later determined that al-Qiyan lost control of his vehicle after being shot by police, which appeared to gainsay the charges that he deliberately accelerated in their direction.
On Thursday morning, Erdan signalled his readiness to retract his original accusatory statements made on the day of the attack in which he took his cue from the police and labelled al-Qiyan as a terrorist.
His conclusions, he said, were predicated entirely on the information provided by the police.
“The police investigation and the police testimony in the field pointed unequivocally to an attempted car-ramming attack in which a policeman was killed. They were the findings. No one else has any other sources of information than the police in the field and I, as a minister who was not at the scene of the incident, can only trust the police.”
Erdan added that he was open to the possibility that mistakes had been made on the part of the security forces who opened fire.
“Is it is possible that mistakes were made in this serious and complicated incident that took place there?” he asked. “It is possible, especially in a complicated situation that the forces were in. If it turns out that mistakes were made here or that we are not talking about an attack, then there is absolutely an obligation to learn from it.”
Erdan also addressed what he described as a “lying campaign” against him and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh. “Arab members of the Knesset, led by Ayman Odeh (Joint List) incited the residents of the area months before the incident. They launched a widescale public media campaign with the aim of deterring the police and me from enforcing the law against illegal buildings.”