Umm al-Hiran

Umm al-Hiran

Northern Negev, 18 January 2017


Forensic Architecture collaborated with ActiveStills to investigate the killing of the a Bedouin man, Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an, and of a policeman, Erez Levi on January 18, 2017 in the illegalised Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the northern Negev. 

Shortly before dawn January 18, a large police force raided the village in order to prepare for the demolition of several houses. This demolition was part of a plan to remove the entire village in order to clear the area for the building of a new settlement for Jews only. The police said Abu al-Qi’an was involved in a terrorist attack and suggested he had “links to DAESH”. Local residents and activists said the policemen shot Abu al-Qi’an without provocation and that, following this shooting, Abu al-Qi’an lost control of his car which drove over the policemen.

To investigate the incident Forensic Architecture synchronised videos shot on the ground by members of ActiveStills with aerial footage released by Israeli police. The video we produced overlaying the voiceover of the ground videos over the aerial police footage. 

Our analysis shows that Abu al-Qi’an’s car was proceeding slowly towards the general direction of the policemen when it was shot 3 times. This was followed by a burst of 4 gunshots. 

4 seconds after the first shot was fired his car changes course and drove towards a group of policemen. 

6 seconds after the first shot the car hits the policemen. 

This is followed by a long burst of fire. The car’s horn is heard continuously sounding, suggesting that the driver might be incapacitated. 

13 seconds after the first shot the car comes to a standstill. 

We can also identify the clear sound of a single gunshot at a time several policemen are seen surrounding the stopped vehicle. This last shot is consistent with what the Israeli security personnel calls “verification of killing” or shooting with the intent to kill already neutralised people.

Forensic Architecture team

  • Oren Ziv
  • Ariel Caine
  • Eyal Weizman
  • Christina Varvia
  • Nichola Czyz

Collaborating Organizations

  • Activestills (Keren Manor)


In a video of the event shot on mobile phone from an overlooking hill,  we later identified a single shot. It is possible that the single shot we recorded in the first video is a flare.

Ongoing Investigation

Contrary to police claims, al-Qi’an’s headlights were on

“..Almost every element of the story police relayed in the hours after the deadly incident has been repudiated in various media reports and investigations. Now, it seems the police claim that Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an was driving with his lights off, which allegedly made police suspect he was carrying out a vehicular attack, is most likely untrue as well…video shows Abu al-Qi’an’s vehicle, after three shots were fired at it, heading down a slope with its headlights on — before striking any police officers.”

Video contradicts more police claims in Umm el-Hiran killing by John Brown, +972  Published February 1, 2017

In an Al Jazeera news report broadcast the day after the incident, we noticed a short video segment which we believed to show Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an’s car in the first moments of the incident. There is a flashlight pointed at the car and its headlights are on. Abu al-Qi’an’s car does not seem to be moving at an irregular pace.

“..Later that day, police released a video clip filmed from a police helicopter overhead. “In the film you can see the terrorist standing on the side of the road with the lights of his car off, and the minute he notices the team of [police] he accelerates at them and hits them,” said the police. But in the film, shot with a thermal camera, it is not possible to see whether the lights of al-Kiyan’s jeep are off or not. Erdan repeated the police’s claim, saying it proved al-Kiyan’s intentions to run over the police officers. “

Killing of Bedouin Driver: New Video Contradicts Claim by Israeli Police by Almog Ben Zikri, Haaretz Feb 03, 2017


Image: Al Jazeera news


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