Police Officer Killed, Arab Knesset Member Wounded in Violent Clashes

Radicals clash with police sent to demolish houses built illegally on state land; officer killed in ramming attack

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Police attempting to enforce a demolition order in the southern Bedouin town of Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday were violently opposed by local residents, left-wing activists and Arab Israeli Members of Knesset.

A great many Bedouins construct houses and other buildings on state property without purchasing the land or otherwise obtaining the necessary permits. Every once in a while, Israeli courts actually issue a demolition order in response to this criminal activity.

The officers taking part in Wednesday’s demolition expected opposition, but didn’t expect the day to end in bloodshed and death.

Already during the early morning hours, residents, activists and Arab MKs violently demonstrated, some hurling stones at the police.

MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List party, was wounded in the head during this confrontation. Police officials say Odeh was hit by one of the stones thrown by the protesters. Fellow Arab lawmakers insisted that was a lie, and that the police had shot him. They couldn’t explain why Odeh had no signs of a bullet wound.

A short time later, a local Bedouin resident began speeding toward the police line in his pickup truck. It is unclear whether police opened fire before or after he reached their lines, but the outcome was that the driver was killed and that he ran over and killed one of the officers.

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