Following IDF Inquiry Over Palestinian Man’s Death, 2 Israeli Officers Removed, Another Censured
Two Israel Defense Forces officers will be removed from their positions immediately and a third officer will be censured following an internal investigation by the IDF over the death of Palestinian American Omar As’ad, 78, after he was detained at a West Bank checkpoint on January 12. The IDF in a statement on Monday night called As’ad’s death a “clear lapse of moral judgment” and said that it “regrets” As’ad’s death. As’ad, who had a history of cardiac and respiratory illness, suffered a stress-induced heart attack, likely caused by being bound and gagged and held in very cold conditions, the autopsy conducted under the direction of the Palestinian Authority found. As’ad was stopped at a checkpoint near Ramallah and resisted inspection by members of the Netzah Yehuda Battalion. He was gagged by soldiers so that he did not shout and disrupt a surprise raid on a nearby Palestinian village. He and three other Palestinians were held at a nearby construction site until the end of the raid. The investigation found that the soldiers cut the Palestinians loose but did not check on As’ad’s condition before leaving the site. As’ad was unresponsive when the soldiers left; the soldiers said they thought he was sleeping. He was later discovered dead with the ziptie that had been used to tie up his hands still attached to one of his wrists. Meanwhile, Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs said the soldiers detained As’ad due to over-dedication to their mission rather than a desire to harm him. As’ad lived for much of his adult life in Milwaukee and moved back to the West Bank with his wife to retire about a decade ago. Two members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Gwen Moore, on Monday asked the Biden administration to investigate As’ad’s death and to determine if the IDF soldiers used any equipment paid for with US aid.