Two IDF officers will be fired immediately, while a third, a battalion commander, will be publicly censured, following the death of an elderly Palestinian earlier this month, which the military blames on “moral failure and poor decision-making.”
Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, a 78-year-old US citizen, was found dead in the West Bank after being imprisoned by Israeli military.
According to Jerusalem Post, Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, of Jiljilya, a village north of Ramallah, was detained by troops on his way home on January 12, and later found dead.
On his way home, he was stopped by forces from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion at an impromptu checkpoint. He then began to yell at them, attracting people’s attention to the soldiers, who did not want other neighbors to be aware of the surprise inspection.
To calm him down, one soldier covered his mouth with his palm and then placed a fabric gag over his mouth, which he quickly removed. As’ad’s hands were then zip-tied behind his back and he was taken to an abandoned courtyard.
After another detainee noticed he was unresponsive and called for a doctor, he was transferred to a Ramallah hospital and confirmed dead. As’ad died of “stress-induced sudden cardiac arrest owing to external trauma,” according to an autopsy conducted under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority last week.
A Military Police investigation is still underway, with a number of officers, soldiers, and other witnesses being questioned in order to obtain new evidence and confirm testimony from Palestinian witnesses. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs presented the investigation to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi on Monday.
“The occurrence was a tragic and unfortunate event, resulting from a moral failure and poor decision-making on the side of the soldiers,” the investigation said. “One of the IDF’s key values, the protection of human life, was broken,” the military said, adding that “no violence was used during the incident except when As’ad was arrested after refusing to cooperate.”
“The troops failed in their duty by leaving As’ad lying on the floor without the necessary assistance and failing to report the occurrence to their commanders,” according to the investigation.
It also discovered “professional shortcomings” in the checkpoint’s “planning and implementation,” where personnel were stopping automobiles for random searches.
As’ad’s death, according to Kohavi, was a “very grave ethical failing” that went against IDF values.
Source: The Jerusalem Post.