Reports: An autopsy on a Palestinian minister who died in the occupied West Bank Wednesday showed Ziad Abu Ein, 55, was struck by Israeli forces, a Palestinian official declared Thursday, as Palestinian leadership promises retaliation. Hussein al-Sheikh told Reuters that Jordanian and Palestinian doctors involved in the late night examination of the body said Abu […]
An autopsy on a Palestinian minister who died in the occupied West Bank Wednesday showed Ziad Abu Ein, 55, was struck by Israeli forces, a Palestinian official declared Thursday, as Palestinian leadership promises retaliation.
Hussein al-Sheikh told Reuters that Jordanian and Palestinian doctors involved in the late night examination of the body said Abu Ein had died from “being struck, inhaling tear gas and a delay in providing medical attention.”
But, according to Reuters, an Israeli medical source “familiar with the autopsy results” claimed the minister died from a heart attack and had “a pre-existing heart condition.”
The director of the committee’s information center, Jamil al-Barghouthi, told Ma’an news agency that Abu Ein, who was taking part in a tree-planting project, died after Israeli forces beat him in the chest with the butts of their rifles and their helmets in the village of Turmsayya in the Ramallah district.
Kamal Abu Safaka, a witness, said that Abu Ein was “beaten by a soldier” in the chest “after having a conversation with the officer in charge.”
An AFP photographer said three soldiers grabbed Abu Ein and hit him in the chest. He lost consciousness and was taken to Ramallah Public Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Israel reinforced troops in the occupied West Bank Wednesday and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon issued an apology over the death.
Abbas: All options on table
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday called the incident “barbaric” and a “crime in all the meaning of the word,” asserting that all options to respond to the killing of the Palestinian minister are up for debate.
Abbas said he and other top leaders “will take the necessary measures” after Abu Ein’s funeral, which took place at midday on Thursday with full military honors.
“We are determined to continue popular resistance until the occupation and settlements are removed,” he stressed.
Abbas warned that Israel would fabricate accounts in order to clear itself of the “murder of minister Abu Ein.”
Thousands of mourners turned out for Abu Ein’s funeral. To the sounds of drums and bagpipes, Abu Ein’s Palestinian flag-draped coffin was carried by pallbearers in military uniform along a red carpet at the presidential compound in the city of Ramallah.
The funeral procession then streamed through the streets to a cemetery as people fired in the air. Crowds wearing the traditional Palestinian kuffiyeh used mobile phones to film the funeral on a cold but sunny afternoon.
Israeli police forcibly dispersed a protest in annexed East Jerusalem held by Palestinians mourning Abu Ein, Anadolu news agency reported. Israeli police beat Palestinian protesters and seized the black flags that they held to symbolize mourning, eyewitnesses said.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that police forces had dispersed the “unauthorized” rally in East Jerusalem’s Salah al-Din neighborhood “after a police officer was assaulted during the demonstration.” No injuries have been reported thus far from the incident.
Besides his role in the PA monitoring illegal Israeli settlements and the separation barrier, Abu Ein was a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and previously served as deputy minister for prisoner affairs.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Palestinian leadership said it decided to end all security coordination with Israel in response to the death of Abu Ein.
A senior official, Jibril Rajoub, told the press that the PA will end “all forms of security coordination with Israel for deliberately killing Minister Ziad Abu Ein.”
Ein’s death was condemned by Palestinian factions, with immediate calls to halt security coordination with Israeli forces, a policy already widely unpopular among Palestinians.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on the PA to halt all security coordination following news of Abu Ein’s death, with Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh saying Israel only understands the “language of force.”
Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouthi said the PA official’s death reflects the “barbarism and savagery of the Israeli occupation,” while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine urged the international community to take action to prove human rights organizations have any credibility.
Meanwhile, the Bethlehem municipality decided to turn off the lights on the Christmas tree in the city in mourning of Abu Ein.
Mayor Vera Baboun told Ma’an that the decision came after Abbas declared three official days of mourning.
Similarly, Laila Ghannam, the governor of Ramallah and al-Bireh, declared three official days of mourning, saying that “targeting a minister in cold blood is an Israeli declaration of war on human rights.”
Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi also strongly condemned Abu Ein’s “extrajudicial killing.”
“Israel’s use of excessive and indiscriminate violence constitutes war crimes under international law. Israel constantly uses extreme violence, especially against non-violent resistance, and Ziad was guilty of nothing more insidious than planting olive trees on Palestinian land that Israel was attempting to steal.”
Ashrawi said the Palestinian leadership demands an independent, neutral investigation into this latest Israeli crime, calling for an end to impunity for Israeli violations.
PLO negotiator Saeb Ereka said the Israeli authorities are fully responsible for the killing of Abu Ein.
“Our brother Ziad was killed while marking International Human Rights Day by planting olive trees to symbolize the hope for both peace and justice,” Erekat said.
“This a clear example of how the culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community permits it to continue in committing crimes against the Palestinian people.”
“The killing of the Minister Abu Ein is another example of Israel’s vicious and arrogant actions committed against the Palestinians,” he declared, adding that the international community should protect Palestinians from the crimes committed against them by “Israeli forces and extremist settlers.”
Meanwhile, EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini demanded an “immediate” inquiry Wednesday into the death of Abu Ein.
“Reports of excessive use of force by Israeli Security Forces are extremely worrying: I call for an immediate, independent investigation into … Abu Ein’s death,” she said in a statement.
Since September 2000, following the Second Intifada, at least 9,100 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, including 2,053 children.
Over 7,000 Palestinians are currently languishing in 17 Israeli prisons and detention camps, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.