Autopsy of Palestinian bus driver rules out foul play

Family continues to reject claim of suicide; body handed over to family for burial; Hamas calls for revenge for ‘murder’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Palestinian mourners attend the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni in Abu Dis on November 17, 2014. (photo credit:  AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Palestinian mourners attend the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni in Abu Dis on November 17, 2014. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)

Police ruled out foul play in the death of a Palestinian bus driver overnight Sunday-Monday, after an autopsy Monday afternoon confirmed that the East Jerusalem man had committed suicide.

Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, 32, was found hanging from a rope inside a bus at a depot for Israeli transportation company Egged late Sunday night, sparking rumors that he was killed by Jewish extremists, and setting off riots in East Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter that the post-mortem examination proved the incident was “not criminal related whatsoever” and that Ramouni’s body was handed over to his family for burial.

The funeral in Abu Dis later Monday was attended by thousands of people, some of whom chanted “revenge.”

The autopsy took place at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute with a Palestinian coroner in attendance. The findings were presented to Ramouni’s family, according to Israel Radio, and the institute informed them that he was not killed and that no signs of violence were found on his body.

Ramouni’s family rejected the autopsy report conclusions, and maintained that the report indicated that there were bruises on his body.

“Even according to the report, there is no chance he committed suicide,” the victim’s brother told Haaretz. “My brother had everything in life. [I’m] a million percent [sure] he didn’t commit suicide.”

Meanwhile, Hamas threatened “an escalation” for the supposed murder of Ramouni.

“His murder proves Israel’s racism, and the response must be an escalation of the resistance, using all measures,” the terror group said in a statement to Palestinian media, according to the Walla news website.

Earlier Monday, police said that no signs of violence were found on the body of the driver, contrary to various reports, and that suicide was suspected. The man’s family dismissed both claims in an interview with Palestinian media, and pictures published by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency purported to show bruises on Ramouni’s body.

#صورة يوسف الرموني "أبو جهاد" 32 عاماً والذي وجد مشنوقاً في حافلة إيجد التي يعمل سائق لها في #القدس المحتلة

Posted by ‎شهاب‎ on Sunday, November 16, 2014

Just hours after the body was found, riots broke out in several East Jerusalem neighborhoods. A number of Palestinian organizations in East Jerusalem called for a general strike that would also include Palestinian bus drivers, according to Israeli news outlet Ynet.

The incident sparked widespread unconfirmed reports online of a lynching by Israelis.

Fellow bus driver Muatasem Fakeh said he had seen evidence that Ramouni was attacked. “We saw signs of violence on his body,” he told AFP. “He was hanged over the steps at the back of the bus in a place where it would be impossible to hang yourself alone,” he added.

Ramouni was a father of two from Jerusalem’s A-Tur neighborhood. His family said he was not suicidal.

The incident came several hours after a Jewish man was stabbed with a screwdriver while walking near Jerusalem’s Old City, once again ratcheting up tensions in the city after several days of shaky calm.

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.

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