State must release body of driver in suspected car ramming, Israel’s Supreme Court rules

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the state to release the body of a Bedouin teacher who ran over a police officer during demonstrations in an unauthorized Bedouin village over home demolitions.

Police shot and killed Yacoub Abu al Kiyan, 50, as he attempted to drive through the demonstrations on the way to work.

According to police Kiyan, a father of 12, deliberately drove into a line of police officers securing the site of the demolitions in the village of Umm al-Hiran. His family and witnesses claim he was shot while driving out of the village and lost control of his car, hitting and killing Erez Levy, 34.

The court ruled that Kiyan’s body should be turned over to his family for burial, with the majority opinion stating that “the family of the deceased belongs to the Bedouin community, who are law-abiding Israeli citizens and some of them even serve in security forces.” The court also ruled that the state could not limit the number of mourners at the funeral.

Terrorists’ bodies are often held by the state to prevent their public burials from becoming flashpoints for riots.

Arab Israelis in a 200-vehicle convoy drove to Jerusalem on Monday to protest Kiyan’s shooting and the demolition of Bedouin homes.

A Jewish town is slated to be built on the village’s land, with the 1,000 residents of the unrecognized village moving to Hura, one of several recognized Bedouin villages built by Israel in the Negev. Israel’s Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that the land belongs to the state and upheld the decision to destroy the illegally built homes in an appeal brought by residents.

In a Facebook post Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the protest.

“Most Arab citizens of Israel want to integrate into Israeli society. I also want this and therefore my government is investing tremendous resources to achieve this goal,” he said. “Unfortunately there are extremists in Arab society who incite Arab citizens to go in the opposite direction.”

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