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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Palestinian American dies of heart attack after brief detention by Israeli forces

Jerusalem. An elderly Palestinian American man was found dead early Wednesday morning shortly after being briefly held by Israeli forces in a village in the occupied West Bank, prompting the US government to call for an investigation into his death.

A man identified by U.S. and Palestinian officials as Omar Assad has died of a heart attack after being detained during a nighttime raid in Jililia, a Palestinian village near the city of Ramallah, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement. The ministry said he was 80 years old.

An Israeli army statement said a Palestinian in Jililia “was detained after resisting scrutiny” during an Israeli raid and later released alive. The statement added that the Israeli military police are investigating the incident.

According to the leader of the village council, in an interview published on the main Palestinian news outlet Wafa, Mr. Assad was driving home after visiting relatives when he was stopped by Israeli soldiers, pulled out of the car, blindfolded, handcuffed and taken to a construction site. along with four other villagers.

After the soldiers left the area, Mr. Assad was found dead at a construction site at around 4:30 am, council leader Fuad Muti told Wafa.

Almost the entire village is administered by the Palestinian Authority in accordance with diplomatic agreements made in the 1990s, known as the Oslo Accords. But Israeli troops regularly enter areas of government autonomy, such as Jiljilia, to carry out arrests and sometimes for exercises.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday that the United States has sought clarification from Israel about the incident. “We support a thorough investigation into the circumstances of this incident,” Mr. Price said at a briefing.

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Mr. Assad lived in Milwaukee for decades before returning to the West Bank about 10 years ago, his family told .

He is at least the second Palestinian in 2022 to die in the West Bank in an incident related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Another Palestinian, Baqir Khashash, was killed during a shootout with Israeli soldiers in Balat in the northern West Bank on 6 January.

Israeli soldiers or settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, killed at least 79 Palestinians in 2021, according to data compiled by the United Nations. There, Palestinians killed three Israelis, most recently in December, when 25-year-old Israeli settler Yehuda Dimentman was shot dead from an ambush in the northern West Bank.

Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 from Jordan. Violence in the West Bank reached a five-year peak in 2021, according to the UN, as the prospect of a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians grew ever more distant, seven years after the last peace talks fizzled out in 2014.

The current Israeli government, led by Naftali Bennett, a former settler leader opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, has ruled out a return to formal peace talks during his tenure.

The Palestinian leadership is divided between the secular Palestinian Authority, which controls parts of the West Bank, and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

Lara Jakes provided coverage from Washington DC.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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