Israeli police officers shot dead a Palestinian who they allege tried to ram them with his car during a protest against home demolitions in southern Israel.
A policeman who was struck by the vehicle later died of his injuries, according to the Israeli media.
Residents of the Bedouin village of Um Al Hiran, in the Negev desert, however, said that the driver was simply heading to the scene to talk with authorities in an attempt to halt the demolitions.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Um Al Hiran, said one other Palestinian was also killed during clashes that broke out after the incident.
Palestinian Knesset member Ayman Odeh was injured in the head by police during the confrontation, a parliamentary aide who was with him said.
Um Al Hiran village activist Raed Abu al-Qiyan named the driver of the vehicle as Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan, a member of his Bedouin clan, and denied he was seeking to harm police.
“The Israeli narrative is a lie. He was a revered school teacher,” he told AFP news agency. “He was in his car and they shot at him from everywhere.”
Police said several officers were injured during the early morning incident, without providing further details.
“A vehicle driven by a terrorist from the Islamic Movement intended to strike a number officers and carry out an attack,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement.
A later statement confirmed that the alleged attacker was dead.
The injured Palestinian politician, Odeh heads the Joint List, a coalition of mainly Arab parties and the third-largest bloc in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
“They attacked the MP and other people – demonstrators – with stun grenades, tear gas directly in people’s faces,” Odeh’s aide, Anan Maalouf, told Israeli army radio.
“There was no car-ramming attack here. There were no clashes here between the demonstrators and police.”
No building permits
Israeli authorities regularly carry out demolitions of Bedouin homes they deem to have been built illegally.
However, building permits are nearly impossible to obtain, according to residents and activists, who say Jewish Israelis are given preferential treatment.
Earlier in January, Palestinian citizens of Israel announced a nationwide strike after Israeli authorities demolished 11 Palestinian homes in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel.
These homes were also demolished on the pretext that they were built without a permit.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, activist and professor of architecture Yosef Jabareen said half a million Palestinians face displacement in Israel and East Jerusalem.
During the past two decades approximately 5,000 Palestinian homes in Israel have been demolished, Jabareen estimates.
“There is an obvious plan to halt any prospect of Palestinian cities naturally developing and expanding as our population grows. There is systematic ghettoisation of our towns and a strategy to confine us within our existing spaces.”
Palestinians have jurisdiction over only 2.3 percent of the entire state’s land, causing severe overcrowding in towns and villages and the building of houses without the required permits.
Since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, no new Palestinian towns or cities were built, in contrast to the 600 Jewish municipalities that have been developed, according to Adalah, the legal centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. (AJ)