Two people have died in a confrontation between police and Bedouin villagers in Umm al-Hiran, southern Israel.
Officers say an Israeli Arab was shot dead after he rammed his car into a group of policemen, killing an officer.
Israeli officials have been wary of car ramming since the advent of a wave of Palestinian street attacks in October 2015.
However, a rights activist present at the time of Wednesday’s incident (January 18, 2017) disputed the police account of events. Michal Haramati said the driver, a local teacher, appeared to have been shot before his vehicle rolled uncontrollably towards the group.
Police claim he was an active member of the Israeli Islamic Movement. But locals say he merely wanted to talk to officials about the demolition of his village.
The Israeli government is building a new town on the site after the Supreme Court rejected a local Bedouin tribe’s rights to the land.
The army moved them from their original village to Umm al-Hiran in the 1950s.
Israel’s Bedouin predominate in the Negev desert area accounting for two thirds of the Jewish state’s territory. Many are nomadic tribes, which have wandered across the Middle East for thousands of years.
Of Israel’s eight million-strong population, 20 percent are Arab citizens, 200,000 of whom are Bedouin.
They claim Israel has long discriminated against them. Around half of the Israeli Bedouin live in towns and villages formally recognised by the government, while others live rough in patches of the desert.