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Netanyahu Apologizes for Calling Bedouin Teacher Killed by Police a Terrorist

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for calling a Bedouin teacher who was shot by police in 2017 a terrorist.

Netanyahu said Tuesday night that in making the claim, he had relied on information from the police. A day earlier, Israel’s Channel TV reported that the state attorney at the time suppressed evidence that would have countered the terrorist claim by police.

Police shot and killed Yacoub Abu al Kiyan, 50, as he attempted to drive through demonstrations against home demolitions in January 2017 in the unauthorized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran on the way to work.

Police had alleged that Kiyan, a teacher and father of 12, deliberately drove into the line of officers securing the site  His family and witnesses claimed he was shot while driving out of the village and lost control of his car, hitting and killing the officer, Erez Levy, 34.

After the incident, Netanyahu described the events as a “terrorist attack by unknown” people, believing it to be a car-ramming attack.

Following Netanyahu’s apology, the police offered condolences to Kiyan’s family.

Kiyan’s wife thanked Netanyahu for the apology but said it was not enough. The family has demanded the establishment of an official commission of inquiry, and to be awarded both land and compensation, Haaretz reported.

Last month, the family filed a civil suit against the police for nearly $5 million in damages. The family home was demolished following the incident and they have been living in mobile homes.

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