Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan slammed reports that the National Forensic Institute had determined that MK Ayman Odeh was struck by a police bullet as he protested the demolition of illegally built structures several weeks ago in the Negev Bedouin town of Umm al-Hiran. Addressing reporters, Erdan said that “it is very sad that you rushed to report something that is not true, further allowing MK Odeh to further fan the flames that he has set.”
Odeh was injured during protests by Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran against the demolition of illegally built homes. During the course of those protests, Israeli police officer 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, Hy”d, was killed in a car ramming attack. The vehicle was driven by Yaakub Musa Abu Al-Kian. A jeep driven by Al-Kian sped in the direction of a group of police officers, whereupon officers opened fire on the vehicle, killing the driver and a second individual.
A riot ensued after that, and Odeh, head of the United Arab List, was present leading the mob. Police responded with antiriot measures, and Odeh was slightly hurt by what he claimed was a rubber bullet. Police denied his claim, saying that they do not use rubber bullets to put down riots within the green line, and attributed Odeh’s injury to a rock thrown by rioters.
Reports on Monday said that the National Forensic Institute had determined that Odeh’s version of the story was correct, whereupon he called a press conference and slammed the “brutal evacuation of Umm al-Hiran that led to the death of two people,” referring to Levi and Al-Kian. “Police know it was their evil behavior that led to these deaths, and since then it has been spreading lies and disinformation in an attempt to cover up their failure. We will continue to fight for the truth and for the rights of Umm al-Hiran residents to live on their land in dignity.”
But upon the actual release of the report later Monday, it was made clear that the forensic investigation by the Institute had been inconclusive. Odeh’s injuries, said the report, were made by a sharp object, and could have been caused by any one of a number of objects.
“From the beginning we said that it was not clear what injured Odeh, but what is clear is his responsibility for his own injuries,” Erdan said. “He was the one who headed the violent mob that fought with police after an officer was killed. I suggest that reporters read the report before publicizing the version of this rabble rouser,” he told the reporters.