An autopsy confirmed that an elderly Palestinian-American man who died after being detained in an Israeli raid suffered “stress-induced sudden cardiac arrest stemming from external violence,” after witnesses disputed soldiers’ accounts of the events. in the high-profile incident.
Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, 78, was arrested in his village of Jiljilya, in the occupied West Bank, at a makeshift road checkpoint on January 12 and “apprehended after resisting a checkpoint,” according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He was handcuffed, gagged and blindfolded for 20 minutes to an hour, and local residents and others detained in the raid discovered his body after the soldiers left.
A copy of the autopsy commissioned by the Palestinian Justice Ministry, published on Wednesday and seen by The Guardian, says As’ad had internal bleeding on his eyelids as a result of pressure on his eyes, abrasions and bruises, and redness around his eyes. of the dolls. as a result of being handcuffed with cable ties. He also noted that he had several pre-existing heart problems.
Palestinian officials had previously claimed that As’ad had been beaten.
According to the findings of the initial military investigation leaked to the Israeli media, the soldiers involved in the incident noticed that As’ad had fallen silent and thought he seemed a little “drugged” before “falling asleep”. After the bridles were cut, the soldiers left without checking on him, even though a military doctor was nearby, Haaretz reported.
In interviewsSeveral witnesses have said that As’ad had clearly lost consciousness and stopped breathing before the soldiers left. They also said that he stayed thrown on the floorinstead of sitting in a chair, at the construction site where he was held.
A separate report on the Ynet news website about a leaked military summary of events suggested that none of the troops involved “would be charged or suspended”.
It also quoted military lawyers representing the soldiers as saying that As’ad had been “lawfully detained during the operation in accordance with procedures” and that “his death is not related to the conduct of the military force.”
IDF international spokesman Lt. Col. Amnon Shefler said Wednesday that he had no immediate comment on the autopsy findings. “The investigations continue. If we find irregularities, of course we will demand answers from the soldiers and, if necessary, they will be punished according to our protocols and our values”, he said.
In an earlier statement, the army said As’ad was alive when the soldiers released him, but that the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division was reviewing the incident.
As’ad and his wife immigrated to the US in the 1970s and ran a grocery store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before retiring and returning to the West Bank a decade ago.
The 78-year-old’s US citizenship means his case has received more international attention than most of the violent incidents and civilian deaths related to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. In 2021, security forces killed 41 Palestinians in the West Bank who were not involved in attacking or allegedly attacking Israelis, according to the human rights group B’Tselem.
The US State Department has asked Israel for “clarification” on As’ad’s death, while his family and several members of Congress have called for a US-led investigation.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism