Contrary to Army Report, Autopsy Shows Palestinian Man Who Died in Custody Was Shot

Army report said 36-year-old Yasin al-Saradih may have died from gas exposure during Palestinian riots against Israeli soldiers in Jericho

A screenshot of a video showing Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian man in Jericho, February 22, 2018.

The Palestinian man from the West Bank city of Jericho who was killed on Thursday was shot in the stomach, according to medical sources informed of the results of the autopsy. 

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The sources said 36-year-old Yasin al-Saradih may have died from blood loss, adding that an entry hole was found in the stomach, as well as shrapnel near the tailbone.

Earlier Friday, the Israeli army said al-Saradih had died from smoke inhalation. According to the army's preliminary investigation, the man ran toward the Israeli soldiers with an iron bar and attempted to grab a weapon before he was arrested. A video of the incident that took place overnight Thursday shows the soldiers beating the man.

The military report said that around 50 Palestinians rioted during the army operation, throwing stones, burning tires and throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. When Saradih ran toward the soldiers he was forcefully handcuffed and, at that point, examined by a paramedic who deemed him to be in good condition.

Checkpoint at the entrance to Jericho, 2008
דניאל בר-און / ג'ינ

The soldiers continued to use riot control methods near where al-Saradih was being held, says the report, when he was exposed to gas that may have caused his death. While handcuffed, his medical condition deteriorated until the IDF pronounced him dead.

A search later revealed that he was holding a knife on his person. Military sources had said that shots were fired during the arrest, but no bullet wounds were found on his body.

The video released of the arrest shows the soldiers overtaking the Palestinian and continuing to beat him while he layed on the ground with several soldiers around him.

The military confirmed that the video documents the incident that took place Wednesday night in Jericho, but claims it captures it in a way that does not allow full comprehension of the incident.

The Israeli army said that riots erupted during a raid on the West Bank city in which a “terrorist armed with an iron bar charged at the soldiers and tried to attack them. The force responded with gunfire, confronted the terrorist from close range and managed to stop him. A knife was found in his possession. He was evacuated by the force from the scene to receive medical treatment. He was later pronounced dead.”

An earlier military statement said that the man attacked the soldiers with a knife and tried to steal a gun, adding that he was treated by military medics on the scene. The video does not show an attempt to steal a gun. Later, the military retracted the statement and issued a new one.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club identified the man as 36-year-old Yasin al-Saradih. The statement said the man was beaten and wounded by teargas inhalation.

His family told Haaretz that al-Saradih was not suffering from a disease or other medical issues. They told Haaretz that he was single and that he worked in all sorts of jobs, from construction to agriculture. He was also a soccer player who played at the Alhalhel center in Jericho.  

In 2002, he was wounded by gunfire in the second intifada, but wasn’t involved with any Palestinian factions or organizations of the sort. His family says he wasn’t wanted by any security organizations as far as the family is concerned.

According to the family, young people often hang out in the city center late at night, particularly those who do not have steady work. When the Israeli army enters the town, they say, it often leads to confrontations and clashes of force.

Eid Barahmeh, Head of the prisoner’s club in Jericho, told Haaretz Yasin was arrested at around 2:00 A.M. Two hours later, the family was notified of his death. According to Barahmeh, al-Saradih’s body was transferred to the Forensic Institute in Abu Kabir, and that a physician appointed by the family was present during the autopsy.

Last Friday, two Palestinians were killed and two others were wounded by Israeli shells when they approached the Gaza border, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The bodies were identified as Salem Mohammed Sabah and Abdullah Ayman Sheikha, both 17, from Rafah.

Over that weekend, the Israeli military struck 18 targets in the Gaza Strip following an escalation on the border. A rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in an Israeli community on Saturday, causing property damage.