80-year-old Detained by Israeli Soldiers Dies of Heart Attack, Palestinian Health Ministry Says

Washington requests clarification after Palestinians say Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, who is a dual U.S. citizen, was handcuffed and beaten by Israeli soldiers

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File photo: Israeli soldiers patrol in the West Bank.
File photo: Israeli soldiers patrol in the West Bank.Credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

An 80-year-old Palestinian man died of a heart attack on Wednesday after being detained overnight by Israeli forces in the Ramallah area, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

According to the ministry's statement, Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad was "assaulted" and beaten by Israeli soldiers, who stopped him on his way home, in the village of Jiljilya, and handcuffed him.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that As'ad was a dual U.S. citizen.

As'ad and the zip tie allegedly used to handcuff him.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed condolences over the death on Wednesday at a news briefing, and said he had asked for clarification from Israel regarding the death of the man, who is a U.S. citizen.

The Israeli military confirmed he had been held by soldiers "after resisting a security inspection," but said he was then released and only later, in the morning, found dead near his village.

Jiljilya village council head Fouad Qattoum said As'ad was returning home after visiting relatives when Israeli soldiers stopped his car, bound him, blindfolded him and led him away to a building still under construction. Another villager said he saw Israeli soldiers walking As'ad away around 3 A.M.

As'ad's body was found more than an hour later, according to vegetable seller Mamdouh Elaboud, who said he was himself detained for 20 minutes, then released.

As'ad's family said he was taken to a hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead. His brother said that As'ad was "an elderly man who suffered from respiration and heart problems."

"I don't understand how a man that age can be considered a danger," the brother added. "They handcuffed him and shoved him. That's abuse... I have no doubt what he went through caused his death."

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned "the killing" of As'ad, adding that "this crime serves as an example of the occupation's brutality and aggression against Palestinians, along with raids, arrests and intimidation of civilians, including women and children."

The ministry added that it will "file complaints to all international bodies, including the international court."

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that As'ad was "lynched by occupation soldiers," and that his death was "a crime arising from the terror agenda" carried out by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Israel's military police have launched an investigation into the incident.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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