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Elderly Palestinian said to die of heart attack during arrest by Israeli troops

Omar As’ad, 80, was allegedly violently detained in Jiljilya, near Ramallah; IDF says Military Police are opening investigation into the case

A soldier stands guard in the light of an army jeep in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel/File)
A soldier stands guard in the light of an army jeep in Qalqilya on January 14, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel/File)

An 80-year-old Palestinian man died of a heart attack on Wednesday morning after he was treated violently during a predawn arrest by Israeli soldiers, in a small town near Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority health ministry said.

Jiljilya resident Omar Abd al-Majid As’ad, 80, was allegedly detained in his hometown after returning home late at night.

“According to his family’s account, Israeli soldiers stopped him, tied his hands, and beat him, which led him to suffer a heart attack,” the health ministry said in a statement.

As’ad was taken to a local Palestinian health clinic before being transferred to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah, where he died, the statement said.

The Israel Defense Forces said Military Police opened an investigation into As’ad’s death. In a statement, the military confirmed that As’ad was arrested overnight, but did not comment on the Palestinian allegations of violence.

“The Palestinian was arrested during an operation by IDF troops after he refused a security search. The detainee was released later that night,” the military said.

“The Military Police have opened an investigation into the circumstances of the incident, after which the findings will be handed over to the Military Prosecution for consideration,” the IDF said.

The military conducts arrest operations on a nightly basis, often arresting tens or dozens of Palestinians on suspicion of involvement in terror activity.

Tensions have been rising between Israel and the Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza over the past month, including a wave of terror attacks that so far have taken the lives of two Israeli civilians and wounded several others.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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