Israel executes officers for the death of Palestinian-Americans

JERUSALEM, (AP) -- Tuesday's Israeli military statement said that it would reprimand a senior Israeli officer and remove two other officers from leadership positions over the death of a 78 year-old Palestinian. He was dragged from a vehicle and bound and blindfolded at a checkpoint.

Israel executes officers for the death of Palestinian-Americans

The army admitted that they believed Omar Assad (who has U.S. citizenship) was asleep when they removed his zip-ties from him and placed him face down in the abandoned building. He had been held with three other Palestinians earlier this month. Other detainees claimed they didn't know he was there until the army left.

It is not known when Assad died. After being discovered unconscious by other prisoners, he was taken to hospital and declared dead.

The military released a statement saying that "the investigation concluded that this incident was a grave, unfortunate event, resulting in a moral failure of poor decision-making by the soldiers." The military police continues a separate criminal investigation.

Assad, who was a resident of the U.S. for over 40 years, has relatives still living in the United States. The State Department expressed concern about his death and requested an investigation. Two members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation called for an investigation by the Biden administration.

According to the Israeli military, such incidents are thoroughly investigated.

Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the military commander, called the soldiers' conduct "immoral" and Benny Gantz, Defense Minister, expressed sadness at Assad's passing.

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, pointed out that Israel rarely holds soldiers responsible for the deaths Palestinians. It also said that Assad's case was likely to have been given special attention due to U.S. pressures and his American citizenship.

Dror Sadot spokeswoman for the group. She stated that investigations can take many years and often end with nothing. This is extremely unusual.

Even in the most horrific cases, which are often captured on video, soldiers can get light sentences. Palestinians claim they are subject to systematic abuse while living under military occupation. Sadot stated that B'Tselem has more than 30 open investigations into Palestinian deaths in West Bank.

An autopsy in Palestine concluded that Assad died from a heart attack due to psychological tension from the exposure to violence. It also stated that he had other health issues and found bruises on his head as well as redness on his wrists, redness from being bound and bleeding from his eyes from being blindfolded.

Assad was stopped by a temporary checkpoint at Jiljiliya in the occupied West Bank at 3 a.m. Jan 12. According to the military, he didn't have any ID and "refused" to cooperate with security checks. Its investigation revealed that there had been no violence except when (Assad) was arrested for refusing to cooperate.

According to the report, the soldiers did not recognize signs of distress when they released the prisoners half an hour later. They assumed that (Assad was) asleep and didn't try to wake him.

According to the military, the commander of the battalion would be disciplined. The platoon commander as well as the company commander would be removed from their posts and banned from taking command for two years.

One cousin of Assad, who lives in West Bank, said that the response from the army was "totally unacceptable", but that the family couldn't do anything unless Assad's relatives in America take further action. Fear of reprisal, the cousin requested not to be identified.

Assad was born in Jiljilya, but spent 40 years in the United States. His family in the U.S. confirmed that he became a citizen of the United States in 2009, when he retired with his wife Nazmia. Before the military published their findings, they spoke.

In 1967, Israel captured the West Bank. Parts of the territory are administered by the Palestinian Authority, while its 2.5 million inhabitants live under Israeli military control. Israeli soldiers frequently conduct night raids that they claim are necessary to arrest Palestinian militants. They also set up temporary checkpoints at which Palestinians can be stopped and searched.

Assad Assad's nephew said that his aunt and uncle left Jiljilya in 1969 for Chicago in search of better jobs. He said that they moved to Milwaukee in 1974, where they prospered by opening convenience stores and a restaurant.

They were one of many Jiljilya residents who returned to the village to build retirement homes over the years, Assad Assad stated.

He said, "They built mini-castles for retirement." "Very quiet, all that you can see are olive trees. Because we are high up in the mountains at night, you can smell orange orchards.

Hane Assad, Omar's son and nephew, described him as a philanthropist who was a life-blood of the party. Hane Assad said to the AP that his father would often give money to the needy.

He said, "He loved everyone, regardless of race or culture."

Assad Assad stated that his favorite dish was maqluba -- a combination of meat and rice -- and that he enjoyed playing cards. He said that he was returning from playing cards with his cousin when the soldiers stopped them.

Hane Assad claimed that his mother and father had planned to visit him at Chesapeake before his father's death. Assad claimed that his father was too weak and old to fight any person, let alone a small group of soldiers.

Hane Assad stated that he was "very weak." He walked with a cane.

Assad stated that he is always afraid of returning to Jiljilya as the Israelis at the checkpoints are rude, disrespectful and inconsiderate. He claimed that he was once held for four hours while en route to the funeral of his grandmother. He said that the troops laughed at his American citizenship.

"Whenever we were stopped, Dad would say, "Whatever they want, give it to me." Hane Assad stated, "Just be calm." I can't believe they did this to my father. Nearly an 80-year old man. He was too big for the soldiers. This is not right. This is not the way to treat an elderly person.

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