Following the sudden death of Ziyad Abu Ein, a Palestinian minister in President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party and also the head of the Committee to Resist the Wall and Settlements after a brief confrontation with Israeli police forces and soldiers, President Abbas of Palestine has halted further security coordination with Israel to protest the death of his minister.
Ziyad Abu Ein had joined with over 200 protesters to engage in a non-violent demonstration marking the international human rights day, but the protesters had met with Israeli police blockade when they entered the Palestinian village of Turmusaya in northeast West Bank city of Ramallah.
What led to the death of the minister remains hazy amidst conflicting reports from eye-witnesses, but Palestinian authorities show pictures of an Israeli soldier holding Abu Ein by the throat and shoving him.
According to an eye-witness, Kamal Abu Safaka, “The Israeli soldiers called Abu Ein by name and seemed to be focused on him. There was a lot of pushing, kicking and punching by the soldiers. When Abu Ein tried to intercede, they hit him on the chest with a rifle butt and grabbed him by the throat and pushed him back and then threw a large amount of tear gas and stun grenades.”
WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency had earlier reported that Abu Ein died after he inhaled tear gas and then got hit by an Israeli soldier on the chest, but the director of Ramallah hospital, Dr. Ahmed Bitawi, stated that the minister died of asphyxiation after choking on vomit brought on by tear gas inhalation.
Israeli government released a report that showed Abu Ein must have died of a blockage of a coronary artery that resulted from hemorrhaging – a condition that could have resulted from stress and poor heart.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched a message to Palestinian authorities that Abu Ein’s death would be duly investigated. The statement reads: “The Prime Minister, who has been holding security consultations throughout the day, pointed to the need to calm the situation and act responsibly. The IDF is reviewing the circumstances of the participation of Ziyad Abu Ein and his later death. Additionally, the proposal has been made to the Palestinians to establish a joint investigation team to review the incident.”
But Palestinian President Abass states that “What happened is a crime by all means, we cannot sit idle and silent (on) this crime. For that, this leadership is meeting now to decide what it wants, and I say honestly all options are open for discussion and implementation. We don’t have any other solutions.”
The Jordanian government has dispatched two forensic doctors to the West Bank to determine the cause of Abu Ein’s death in response to a request from Palestine, but Israel has noted it will send its own pathologist to join with the Jordanians to examine the direct and remote causes of Abu Ein’s death.