Israeli Soldiers Who Bound, Gagged 80-year-old Palestinian American Before He Died Won't Be Charged

12:00 Jun 13 2023 Ramallah (رام الله) district

Israeli Soldiers Who Bound, Gagged 80-year-old Palestinian American Before He Died Won't Be Charged
Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad. Published by Haaretz

by Haaretz
Jun 13, 2023 11:03 pm IDT

The Israeli military's attorney's office announced on Tuesday that soldiers involved in the death of an elderly Palestinian man last year would not be criminally charged for their actions – they would, however, face further disciplinary action.

The decision was made after the allegations were examined during hearings apparently found no causal link between the failures in the soldiers' conduct when they detained 80-year-old Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, with the report arguing the soldiers "did not recognize any signs of distress" before Asa'ad died.

As'ad lived in Jiljilya, a village north of Ramallah, and died on January 12 after being detained and cuffed by soldiers at an impromptu checkpoint in the West Bank.

As'ad was an American citizen, and U.S. lawmakers had called for a thorough investigation at the time into the circumstances of his death. Palestinian officials had said that the soldiers, who were members of the Kfir Brigade's Netzah Yehuda Battalion, caused his heart attack by beating him.

The arrest and death of Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad

3 A.M.
Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad is stopped by Israeli soldiers on his drive home, after spending time with friends.

3:05 A.M.
The soldiers demand that As'ad step out of his vehicle, and argue with him for 15 minutes.

3:20 A.M.
The soldiers walk As'ad to an abandoned yard, where they handcuff him, lay him on the ground, gag him and blindfold him.

3:35 A.M.
Soldiers lead two more detainees to the yard. One of them notices As'ad is lying still on his stomach.

3:45 A.M.
Two more detainees are brought to the yard. No one is handcuffed apart from As'ad.

4:00 A.M.
The soldiers free one of As'ad's hands and leave the yard.

4:09 A.M.
One of the detainees calls a doctor after noticing As'ad is unresponsive and his face had turned blue.

4:10 A.M.
A doctor arrives at the yard from a nearby clinic and tries to resuscitate As'ad.

4:20 A.M.
As'ad is brought to the clinic and medics continue to treat him with life sustaining measures.

4:40 A.M.
The doctor pronounces As'ad's death.

The soldiers said As'ad began shouting at them and drawing attention, and they cuffed him, blindfolded him and detained him in accordance with an order they received. They said As'ad was detained along with other Palestinians, for fear that they would go on to the village and reveal that the surprise inspection was taking place.

The investigation's findings confirmed that As'ad was left cuffed, blindfolded and gagged for over an hour. The gag may have impeded his breathing and made it difficult for him to request help, according to sources familiar with the investigation. They further said As'ad's condition may have been worsened by very cold weather, and that he may have begun suffering from hypothermia. It is not yet clear who gave the order to detain the men.

The soldiers have told investigators that when they were done with their inspections, they removed the cuffs from As'ad and left him there, without giving him medical assistance or ascertaining his wellbeing.

After the soldiers left, residents called for help and he was transferred to a Ramallah hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Defense sources with knowledge of the investigation described the incident as "not good" and "serious."

U.S. Seeks Info From Israel After Soldiers Involved in Elderly Palestinian-American's Death Evade Criminal Charges

'We have been clear about our deep concern on the circumstances surrounding Omar As'ad's death and the need for such accountability' says State Department spokesman after IDF says it will discipline, but not criminally charge the soldiers involved

Ben Samuels and Amir Tibon for Haaretz
Jun 14, 2023 9:51 pm IDT

WASHINGTON - The United States is seeking more information from the Israeli government about the decision not to criminally charge soldiers over the death of a Palestinian-American man, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters on Wednesday.

The 78-year-old Omar As’ad had been driving home after playing cards with his cousin on January 12 when he was stopped by Israel Defense Forces soldiers at a makeshift checkpoint in Jiljilya, north of Ramallah. He was detained and taken to an abandoned house nearby, where he was handcuffed, gagged and forced to lie on his stomach in the cold for between 20 minutes and an hour, where he suffered a stress-induced cardiac arrest. The soldiers left him in the courtyard, in what a subsequent army report called a “moral failure and poor decision-making.”

. . .

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