PA Official and Convicted Terrorist Died From Heart Attack, Says Israel, as PA President Abbas Lauds ‘Martyr’ (VIDEO)
Israel has scorned Palestinian Authority claims that IDF troops killed a senior PA official during a demonstration in the West Bank earlier today, saying that a preliminary investigation shows that Ziad Abu Ein succumbed to a heart attack. The Israeli government also offered to send a pathologist to assist a Jordanian team conducting an autopsy on Abu Ein.
Abu Ein, whose role was to organize demonstrations and propaganda campaigns against both Israeli settlements and Israel’s security fence, died en route to hospital following a scuffle with Israeli soldiers at a protest near Turmusaya, south of the Shiloh community in the northern West Bank.
Though the proximate cause of Abu Ein’s death is still to be definitively established – he is said to have suffered from a range of pre-existing health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure and a heart condition – PA leaders rushed to condemn Israel in the aftermath.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lauded Abu Ein, who was extradited from the United States to Israel in 1979 for his participation in a bombing in Tiberias that killed two teenagers and wounded dozens more, as a “martyr.” Abbas said that Abu Ein, who was released in 1985 as part of a prisoner swap between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organizations, was the victim of “a barbaric act that cannot be tolerated or accepted,” and announced three official days of mourning, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
Top PA security official Jibril Rajoub confirmed that the PA would now cease security coordination with Israel, while his colleague Saeb Erakat, the leading Palestinian negotiator with Israel, warned of “severe consequences.” Hanan Ashrawi, another PA official, decried what she called an “extrajudicial killing,” claiming that “Ziad was guilty of nothing more insidious than planting olive trees on Palestinian land that Israel was attempting to steal.”
But several eyewitness reports from the scene flatly contradicted the PA’s account. Video shot during the clash shows Abu Ein angrily confronting Israeli soldiers, one of of whom grabbed him by the throat and pushed him backwards into the arms of his fellow demonstrators. The IDF also fired tear gas at the demonstrators.
Tom Rayner, the Middle East correspondent for the UK’s Sky News broadcaster, reported on Twitter that “When Abu Ein is unconscious on ground, Israel medic attempts to assist, asks crowd to make space, Palestinians rush him to a vehicle instead.” Rayner also reported that Abu Ein repeatedly asked the Israeli officer he clashed with for his name, calling him a “dog.”
Separate footage from Kremlin broadcaster RT showed Abu Ein sitting in the recovery position and completely conscious following the altercation:
Some Palestinian demonstrators at the scene claimed that Abu Ein had been struck with a rifle and headbutted by the Israeli officer. However, Roi Sharon, a reporter with Israel’s Channel 10 broadcaster, was categorical that there had been no rifle strike.