Another outrageous incident of incitement on the part of Arab activists, even members of the Knesset, all culminated today in the tragic death of an Israeli policeman, Erez Levi, in a car-ramming attack after a violent confrontation during the demolition of illegal structures in the Bedouin town of Umm Al-Hiran:
A police officer was killed and another injured early Wednesday morning, when an Arab terrorist attacked security forces securing the demolition of illegal structures in the Bedouin settlement of Umm Al-Hiran in southern Israel.
Police units were deployed to the Negev settlement before dawn on Wednesday to protect the demolition team from demonstrators who had gathered at the site of the planned eviction.
Before the operation was completed, however, a car driven by a terrorist associated with the Islamic Movement rammed a group of officers.
Police responded to the attack, shooting and killing the attacker.
The murdered officer has been identified by police as 34-year old Sergeant Major Erez Levy.
The wounded officer is reportedly in moderate condition.
Police say the terrorist responsible for Wednesday’s attack was a member of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, and may have ties to the ISIS terror group.
In the wake of the attack, demonstrators clashed with security forces, hurling stones at officers.
Demonstrators protesting the eviction clashed with police in the wake of the attack.
Joint List MK Ayman Odeh, who had joined demonstrators to protest the demolition, suffered head injuries during the clashes, most likely from a stone hurled towards police.
After the shocking violence, voices were raised from right and left either defending or accusing the police, as well as the instigators, promoters and funders of the violence.
From the right, NGO Monitor said that irresponsible, EU-funded NGOs contributed to the tensions between the Bedouins and Israeli authorities:
NGO Monitor research shows that the NGOs Adalah, Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), and Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) receive European government funding that contributes to tensions between the Bedouin community and the State of Israel.
NGO Monitor President Professor Gerald Steinberg said, “The irresponsible rhetoric of these NGOs furthers an atmosphere that rejects compromise and leads to violence and disrespect for the rule of law.
“It is important to remember that European governments that financially support these organizations also have a responsibility in this regard. For many years, European-backed NGO political advocacy has stripped away the complexity and nuance of the Bedouin issue, and has contributed significantly to demonization and de-legitimization campaigns.
“NGOs that claim to promote the rule of law and human rights have an obligation to carefully assess their allegations and act responsibly,” continued Prof. Steinberg. “The tragic results of their activities are now on full display.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked accused Arab MKs of inciting to violence, noting the important fact that the State had reached an agreement with Bedouins on compensation and alternate housing in place of the illegal structures:
Speaking in an interview broadcast Wednesday evening, Shaked said: “These [attacks] are very difficult cases which are mainly the result of the incitement of Arab MKs and extreme leftist groups who entered the picture in the last few days.”
She said the demolition was carried out after long negotiations between the state and the residents. “You should know that the residents were in negotiations with the state for several years despite the court order [that the structures be demolished].”
She added that the affected families were to be given extensive compensation and were offered alternate housing.
“In recent days [there has been] agitation and incitement by Arab Knesset Members and by extreme leftist organizations who [took advantage] of the event and caused this radicalization. This was a very difficult occurrence. There was terrible violence committed against the police by citizens of the State of Israel. You have to realize that it was citizens who demonstrated so violently against the police, and unfortunately, one policeman was killed.”
She accused Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh and other Arab MKs of the incitement which led to Wednesday’s attack. “There are Arab Knesset Members who work for their public and do a good job in the Knesset, and some, unfortunately such as the chairman of their party, Ayman Odeh, who who lie and incite [against Israel]. Instead of reassuring his constituents and trying to support coexistence, he does just the opposite.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin accused the Supreme Court of encouraging violence by allowing the likes of traitorous Basel Ghattas and Hanin Zouabi to remain in the Knesset
a heavy share of responsibility for the present situation rests on the Supreme Court’s shoulders. This is the same Supreme Court which enabled Zoabi and Ghattas to sit in the Knesset, the same court which allowed the Joint Arab List to compete for election in flagrant violation of the law, the same Supreme Court which instead of ruling that real enforcement should take place on illegal Bedouin construction allowed – time after time – postponements of demolitions while at the same time showing excessive strictness with any Jewish construction. We are paying the price for this today.
“I send condolences and participate in the sorrow of the family of Erez Levi who was murdered this morning in Umm Al-Hiran,” added Levin. “Today it was proved how essential was the decision which I initiated conditioning the transfer of funds to the Bedouin sector on their removing illegal construction and returning stolen lands to the state.”
“This is an unprecedented case which has not occurred before regarding the rule of the law in Israel. What is required is to immediately implement all of the demolition orders issued for illegal buildings in Umm Al-Hiran.”
The minister rejected the analogy between the Bedouins in the Negev and the residents of Amona, calling it “shameful and outrageous”, since “in Amona just like in Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, people are sitting with state permission and assistance and every evacuation is accomplished without murderous and hateful violence towards the state like we saw today.”
Binyamin Netanyahu himself implored the Arab MKs to stop the incitement:
the State of Israel is first and foremost a state of law, with equal enforcement. This incident will not only not deter us, it will strengthen us and strengthen our resolve to enforce the law everywhere.
“I ask of everyone, and especially of the members of the Knesset in Israel, to stop fanning the flames and inciting to violence. The Bedouin public is a part of us, we want to integrate it into Israeli society and not to polarize it and cause it to distance itself from the focus of our existence here. Police forces act with full permission and authority and nobody has the right to disturb them in fulfilling their tasks.”
From the left, activists accused the police of shooting at the terrorist’s truck before it rammed the policemen, in other words it was driving away from the incident, not towards it:
One far-left activist, Israeli mathematician Kobi Snitz, said he witnessed the ramming incident, and “saw a white pickup truck that started driving far away from the officers, drove away from them, not toward them.”
Another witness, Uriel Eisner, 26, an activist at the Center for Jewish Non-violence, confirmed to The Times of Israel that police fired at the vehicle before it accelerated toward officers. Eisner speculated that the driver was trying to leave the village in order to avoid confrontation with police.
Hundreds of left-wing activists protested the demolitions and the police violence:
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Tel Aviv and other locations across Israel on Wednesday to protest the government-ordered demolition of several Bedouin homes and what they saw as excessive police force leading to the deadly car-ramming incident.
On Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth and Qalansawe hundreds of protesters gathered to demonstrate against “the bloodshed and the destruction of homes in the Negev.”
The protests were peaceful by all accounts, but came after a day of intense clashes and spiking tensions over home demolitions and an alleged car-ramming, in which a resident of Umm al-Hiran ran his car into policeman Erez Levi, killing him.
The demolitions of illegal homes in a Bedouin village were disrupted when a car driven by Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an, a local schoolteacher, slammed into police.
Abu al-Qia’an, was killed by police fire, with a video appearing to show officers firing at him before his car accelerated into Levi.
Local residents said al-Qiyan was trying to leave town and only lost control of his vehicle after police shot at him. His brother, Ahmad al-Qiyan, said he was “murdered in cold blood,” and Amnesty International called for a probe into the reports of excessive force by police.
“The police are light on the trigger when it comes to Arab citizens,” the Arab advocacy group Adalah said in a statement that accused the police of a “culture of lying.”
An Arab advocacy group called for a nationwide general strike in the Arab sector on Thursday.
Arab businesses and municipalities will close across the country, but children will go to school for three hours to learn about the demolitions, Joint (Arab) List MK Aida Touma-Sliman said.
The police rejected the accusations against them and at the funeral of the slain policeman Erez Levi Hy’d, Israeli Police chief Roni Alsheich harshly criticised Arab community leaders for inciting to violence:
“Unfortunately, specific leaders from within the [Arab] community have chosen to incite to violence instead of condemning the terror attack,” he said at the funeral for 1st Sgt. Levi at the Yavneh Military Cemetery.
Alsheich was one of several Israeli officials who were quick to label the early morning incident at Umm al-Hiran a terror attack, while witnesses and a video from the scene cast some doubts on whether the act was intentional.
At the funeral, Alsheich repeated the claim that the driver had been radicalized, accusing him of goading children into violence.
“[Abu al-Qia’an] spread incitement at a school where six other teachers have been arrested for they affiliation with the Islamic State,” Alsheich said. “The terrorist looked for a group of police officers, accelerated and then hit them.”
Activists at Umm al-Hiran claimed Abu al-Qia’an lost control of the car when he hit Levi, and aerial footage of the incident appears to show police shooting before the crash.
The footage also showed the car appearing to swerve after plowing through Levi. Police officials have maintained that the act was intentional.
Erez Levi Hy’d was only 34 when he was murdered, and he left a widow with two young children:
Warrant officer Erez(Amedi) Levi Hy’s(May G-d avenge his blood), who was murdered in a terror attack in the Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran in the Negev, was laid to rest Wednesday afternoon in the military section of the Yavneh regional cemetery. Hundreds of people attended his funeral.
Levi, a member of the Coordinating Enforcement Actions Authority of the Police Operations Branch, joined the Border Police in 2002. He left a wife, two children, parents and brothers.
His widow, Clara Levi, eulogized him: “At 4:20 I texted you to look after yourself, I got up from my sleep and thought that something had happened to you but you answered me. Who would have believed that this was the last thing I would have from you?”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said: “When you grow older, dear Tair and Yair, [Erez’s children] you will know and understand that this was the mission of your father Erez and of the police in which he and his wonderful family served so faithfully.
“Israel is a state of law and the more the law is enforced, the less violence there will be and the entire public will benefit from this. In the name of the Israeli government and police, I promise you, Erez, and commit to continue to follow in your footsteps, we will enforce the law in every place and at all times, we will not give in even when accursed murderers try to stop us.”
What a terrible loss to his family, to the police and to the people of Israel. May the family of Erez Levi Hy’d no know more sorrow, and may his memory be for a blessing.
יהי זכרו ברוך
May the vitally important lessons of the rule of law, the prohibition of incitement and the prevention of radicalization and marginalization of minorities, be learned from this dreadful incident.