The murder of Yakub Abu al-Kiyan was not the only crime committed by the State of Israel against his village, Umm al-Hiran, and it may not even be the worst. Of course, killing is killing. Abu al-Kiyan, a beloved math teacher and the first Bedouin Ph.D. in chemistry, was executed by incited policemen who were too quick on the trigger, who also let him bleed to death without giving him medical assistance that could have potentially saved him.
But anyone who thinks that wraps up Israel’s crimes against Umm al-Hiran is deluding himself. The hollow apology by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t even begin the series of apologies that Israel owes the people of that village.
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The difficult images after the killing and destruction don’t fade: Raba al-Kiyan, a thin woman in black, wandering among the ruins of her house as she remains silent, her gaze fixed on the ground. Her nephew, a medical student in Moldova, explains that this is how she repeatedly recreates her last moments with her husband.
At the same time, in the nearby town of Hura, the second widow was mourning – Dr. Amal al-Kiyan. She had married Yakub after her husband died, as Bedouin tradition obligated her to marry his brother. By the age of 24, she was already lecturing at Kaye Academic College of Education in Be’er Sheva. When we paid a condolence call she had earned a doctorate in education from Ben-Gurion University.
The two widows and the entire village were in shock. A gas station attendant in Hura told us how much he had admired his math teacher at Yitzhak Rabin High School. Then-Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan – don’t ever forget this – and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and many others were competing for who could besmirch the teacher more.
Israel Police officers next to the vehicle driven by Yakub Abu al-Kiyan in Umm al-Hiran on January 18, 2017. Tsafrir Abayov / AP
His brother-in-law said that Yakub had put his personal computer and other items into his jeep – the one ostensibly used in the “terror” ramming attack – to save them from the demolition of his home. That’s not how a terrorist leaves his home before an attack.