US Expects ‘Full Accountability’ Over Death of Palestinian American Man in IDF’s Hands
The United States “expects a thorough criminal investigation and full accountability” over the death of Palestinian American Omar As’ad, 78, after he was detained at a West Bank checkpoint on January 12, the US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement issued late Monday, hours after the Israel Defense Forces released the results of an internal investigation into the incident. The statement said that the US continues to be “deeply concerned by the circumstances of the death” of As’ad but that “We note the public statement on the report of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Commanders’ Investigation into the case and its findings, including the determination that ‘the incident showed a clear lapse of moral judgment’ and a failure to ‘protect the sanctity of any human life.’” He added that the US is continuing to discuss the “troubling incident” with the Israeli government. As a result of the inquiry, two IDF officers will be removed from their positions immediately and a third officer will be censured. 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, an 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 was later cut loose and left unresponsive in an empty lot; the Israeli soldiers said they thought he was sleeping. 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.