Palestinian Americans Organized by Israel Died of Heart Attack, Autopsy

JERUSALEM — A 78-year-old Palestinian-American man died this month from a stress-induced heart attack caused by injuries sustained while he was in Israeli custody, according to an autopsy report issued by The New York Times obtained on Wednesday.

Death has brought new scrutiny of Israeli from its closest allies in Washington, who have demanded a “clarification” and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the man, Omar Abdelmajed Assad.

Assad had a pre-existing heart condition and was detained by dozens of Israeli soldiers for about an hour on January 12 in his village of Jiljilya in the occupied West Bank. He was blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back and lying on the ground, according to witnesses, a condition that doctors believe contributed to his death. A witness and his doctor said he died in Israeli custody. He was seen with his face down and unresponsive with the blindfold still open.

Mr. Assad’s life and death reflect the daily dangers Palestinians face under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. The Israeli military regularly conducts nighttime raids on Palestinian villages to prevent attacks, and residents can be stopped for road checks or arrested at home.

The coroner performed an autopsy on Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Coast. Assad had bruises on his head from a traumatic brain injury, but did not say what might have caused the injuries. And had internal bleeding in his eyelids from being tightly blindfolded, as well as other bruises on his arms and red solder marks on his wrists from a lanyard.

The Palestinian Authority and the Israeli military are still investigating the death. Mr. Assad is a US citizen with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in the United States, and his family and several members of Congress have requested an American investigation. But the US has not said whether it will investigate.

According to a Palestinian official with knowledge of the investigation, a preliminary conclusion from the Palestinian investigation determined that he had been “brutally beaten”.

“The investigation indicated that he was subjected to rough and violent treatment,” according to an excerpt from the preliminary results obtained by The Times. “His body had multiple injuries that were documented and detailed during the autopsy.”

Initially, the Israeli military said Assad was still alive when he was released. But later, Israeli authorities declined to answer questions about what happened during his detention, his condition when the soldiers left and whether he received medical treatment. no, say it’s part of the investigation.

Israeli Rights group B’Tselem said Israel rarely prosecutes soldiers responsible for harming Palestinians.

Soldiers stopped Mr Assad during what the Israeli military described as a “routine check” around 3am as he was driving home from a night of card games and coffee with cousins. An Israeli military spokesman said he was arrested after he resisted a check and refused to cooperate with questioning.

The doctor who tried to resuscitate Mr Assad, Islam Abu Zaher, said his face was pale from lack of oxygen, adding that he was most likely deprived of oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes – which the doctor thinks may be possible. caused his heart and lungs. failure.

One witness said that when the soldiers found out about his condition, they abandoned him instead of getting medical attention. Dr Abu Zaher questioned why Mr. Assad appeared to be thrown to the ground and face down and why he was not given first aid by Israeli forces before they left.

Mmdouh Abdulrahman, one of four other men detained by Israeli forces that night, said a soldier had come to check on Mr. Assad. The soldiers whispered among themselves, then one of them cut one of the ropes tied on Assad’s wrist and they quickly left, Mr. Abdulrahman said.

As soon as the soldiers left the yard, Mr. Abdulrahman said he untied Assad’s blindfold and found no pulse on his friend.

Assad had open-heart surgery and implanted several stents about four years ago, said Dr. Abu Zaher, who said he had treated Assad for obstructive pulmonary disease in recent months. Dr Abu Zaher said the lung disease can make it difficult for him to breathe when lying on his stomach.

Mr. Assad and his wife, Nazmieh Assad, moved to the US in the 1970s and opened several grocery stores. They returned to Jiljilya more than a decade ago, but Israel revoked their Palestinian identity cards while they were abroad.

Before his detention, Mr. Assad was optimistic that he would soon be able to travel freely between his birthplace on the West Bank and his adopted home in the United States. He is eager to return to the US to see his seven children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, but fears that Israel will not allow them to return home without a Palestinian ID card. They’ve spent the past several years trying to get them to recover.

In the weeks leading up to his death, Assad hoped his and his wife’s names would soon be on the list of approved applications for reinstatement.

On Monday, nearly two weeks after Assad’s death, a new list of names was released. Their names were written on it.

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad Reporting contributions from Haifa, Israel. Palestinian Americans Organized by Israel Died of Heart Attack, Autopsy

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