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Autopsy to Determine Ziad Abu Ein Cause of Death

December 15, 2014

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue,  hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”  (Proverbs 6:16–19)

After an altercation with Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers north of Ramallah during a protest, 55-year-old Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein, who headed the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Commission Against the Separation Wall and Settlements, died on Wednesday.

Abu Ein and Palestinian activists had been taking part in a demonstration and olive tree planting to oppose Israeli settlements.  Abu Ein was one of 200 protest marchers walking toward the Jewish community of Adei Ad, which in 2009 housed about 20 families.

“We permitted the demonstration, but set a line that can’t be crossed, to prevent it from spilling into Adei Ad,” an Israeli officer said.  “We informed the demonstrators of this line,” he added.  (JPost)

Ziad Abu Ein-Palestinian Authority

Ziad Abu Ein at an protest event in November 2014 (Facebook)

When a minor confrontation ensued, Israeli soldiers stood in the path of the protesters, using riot dispersal means and blocking their access to the community, the resulting verbal clash saw Abu Ein refuse to obey the soldiers, swearing at them, and pressing in close as he shouted at them.  (FT)

At one point a border police officer held Abu Ein at the throat.  Some are arguing that this action caused the minister’s death; however, video footage shows Abu Ein continuing to walk around effortlessly and shouting.  Later, he sits down on a rock, showing signs of distress.  He can be seen clutching his chest.

Abu Ein’s death left many questioning what killed him.  Was it his heart condition and high blood pressure?  Was it a physical tussle with Israeli police?  Or was it the refusal of his fellow protesters to allow an Israeli medic to administer first aid that caused Ziad Abu Ein’s death last week?

Some footage shows an Israeli medic trying to create space around Abu Ein.

“She looks to be trying to administer first aid but then the Palestinians around him decide against keeping him there and decide to rush him to a hospital in Ramallah where of course he was pronounced dead on arrival,” Tom Rayner states.  “The questions, of course, will be not just whether there was an impact, whether he suffocated on tear gas or whether he simply had a heart attack, but also whether he had been left there with the treatment of the Israeli medic he may have survived.”  (Sky)

Israel-President-Reuven Rivlin

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (Israeli GPO photo by Avi Ohayon)

Both Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) autopsies agree that Abu Ein died from a blockage of the coronary artery due to hemorrhaging.

They differ about the cause.

While the PA insists that the heart failure was caused by injury from the scuffle with the IDF soldier, Israel’s autopsy showed that he suffered from ischemic heart disease, with the blood vessels in his heart over 80% blocked by plaque.  As well, old scars indicated that he suffered from previous myocardial infractions.

The official PA position is that the Israelis committed an assassination against Abu Ein, with PA head Mahmoud Abbas calling the death “a barbaric act” and a “brutal assault” despite a lack of evidence for such a claim.

“The Israel government bears full responsibility for the killing of Minster Abu Ein and the systematic crimes committed against the Palestinian people,” added chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat.  “This new assassination will have severe consequences.”  (Times of Israel)

Iran and Turkey also condemned Israel for Abu Ein’s death last Wednesday, while the US State Department said it was “deeply concerned,” and unnecessarily called for an Israeli probe into the occurrence.  (Arutz Sheva)

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon released an official statement that Israel is coordinating with the PA in examining Abu Ein’s body for cause of death.

“The incident in which Ziad Abu Ein dies is being investigated by the IDF.  We regret his death.  We have offered the Palestinian Authority a joint investigation, and there will be a joint autopsy of Abu Ein’s body,” Ya’alon stated.  (Haaretz)

On Thursday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said, “Loss of life always brings pain,” adding that Israel “is committed to carry out a thorough investigation into the events of his death.  Israel will act according to the rule of law.”

In response to the threat of violent retaliation by PA leaders, Rivlin said that Israelis and Palestinians “have a duty to be responsible and encourage calm.”  (JPost)

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