By Ali Sawafta
RAMALLAH, West Bank – An elderly Palestinian-American who was found dead after being detained by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank suffered sudden cardiac arrest caused by the stress of being manhandled, according to a Palestinian autopsy released Wednesday.
A brother of Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad said the report – which also noted that the 78-year-old had a history of heart problems – showed Israel bore responsibility for his death two weeks ago.
Details of As’ad’s pre-dawn detention on Jan. 12 in his hometown of Jiljilya, and the post-mortem examination, “lead us to deduce that the death happened as a result of sudden cardiac arrest stemming from the stress of external violence”, said the report, issued by the Palestinian Justice Ministry.
The Israeli military said on Wednesday that it had no immediate comment on the findings.
An Israeli military statement on Jan. 12 said that its forces carried out an overnight operation in the village, and that a Palestinian was “apprehended after resisting a check”.
The statement said he was alive when the soldiers released him, but that the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division was reviewing the incident.
As’ad was found with a plastic zip-tie around one wrist. A former Milwaukee, Wisconsin resident, he had lived in the United States for decades and returned to the West Bank 10 years ago, his brother Amer told Reuters.
“I received the autopsy report, I contacted the lawyer to pursue the case and I will contact the American consulate to follow up as well,” he said. “Israel bears responsibility for his death.”
After As’ad’s death, the U.S. State Department said that he was a U.S. citizen and that it had sought clarification on the case from Israel.