Israel Will Not Charge Soldiers Over Palestinian American Who Died

Israeli military prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against soldiers who detained and gagged a 78-year-old Palestinian American man and then left him unconscious in a building site shortly before he was pronounced dead.

The Israeli Army announced on Tuesday that soldiers involved in the detention of the man, Omar Assad, 78, during an early-morning operation in January 2022 in a village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, would only face internal disciplinary measures.

The army said in a statement that those measures had already been taken against some of the soldiers “who acted in a manner that did not correspond with what is required.” But it said that “no causal link was found between the errors in the conduct of the soldiers and Assad’s death.”

Mr. Assad’s death set off an outcry. Scores of Palestinians are killed each month in the West Bank, often during gun battles between the Israeli Army and armed Palestinian groups, but few of those incidents garner international attention.

The fate of Mr. Assad, an American citizen who once ran several grocery stores in Milwaukee, attracted unusual attention because of his dual nationality; his profile as an elderly, unarmed civilian; and a demand by the U.S. State Department for a criminal investigation into his death.

Responding Wednesday to the announcement, Mr. Assad’s family accused the military of a cover-up. “They have to pay the price for what they did to him,” said Nazmieh Assad, Mr. Assad’s widow, in a telephone interview. “They can’t do this and get away with it.”

Mr. Assad was stopped by soldiers while driving home from a friend’s house, during a routine incursion by the Israeli Army into an area of the West Bank administered by the Palestinian Authority. Soldiers had set up an informal checkpoint in the village of Jiljilya to conduct random searches of passing cars.

At around 3 a.m., they flagged down Mr. Assad, setting off an argument that led to them forcing him from his car, gagging him, binding his wrists, and leading him to a nearby building site where he was detained for roughly an hour with three other Palestinians, according to interviews with witnesses and military officers.

The soldiers then left the area, and Mr. Assad was discovered by another detainee, lying face down, unresponsive, in a tiled courtyard. An autopsy later found he had died of a heart attack.

In comments last year, the Israeli military expressed regret over Mr. Assad’s death, fired two of the mission’s commanders, and acknowledged that soldiers should not have left the area after they realized Mr. Assad was unconscious. But the army’s statement on Tuesday said that a senior military doctor had ultimately concluded that “it is not possible to determine that Assad’s death was caused specifically by the soldiers’ conduct.”

The decision not to pursue criminal charges has revived accusations that the Israeli Army does too little to investigate and punish its soldiers for deaths of civilians living under Israeli occupation, creating a culture of impunity.

“How can they just close the case?” asked Hadi Assad, Mr. Assad’s son, in a telephone interview. “That doesn’t make sense. There were multiple witnesses that saw everything.”

At least 125 Palestinians have been killed in fighting with Israeli soldiers so far this year in the West Bank; many are militants but a significant proportion are civilians, including a 2-year-old whom the Israeli Army acknowledged shooting dead by mistake earlier this month.

Israel says it investigates every claim of wrongdoing, takes precautions to avoid taking innocent lives, and acts only to prevent attacks on Israelis, 25 of whom have been killed during Arab attacks so far this year.

But rights groups say that Israeli investigations into allegations of military wrongdoing rarely result in prosecutions. An analysis by Btselem, an Israeli rights group, found that just 3 percent of alleged Israeli military abuses between 2000-2015 resulted in an indictment.

No soldier has been prosecuted for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist shot dead during an Israeli raid last year. An investigation by The New York Times found that the bullets that killed her were fired from the approximate location of an Israeli Army vehicle.

About Webmaster

Mario Milan Junior ,I'm passionate for the online media and marketing ,19 years old ,first year university .Can't Wait to Join My Father this year in Florida ,United States .

Check Also

Biden Called Putin a ‘Crazy S.O.B.’ The Kremlin Called Biden a ‘Cowboy.’

President Biden called Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, a “crazy S.O.B.” during an …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *