IDF probe said to clear soldiers in death of PA official
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IDF probe said to clear soldiers in death of PA official

Initial investigation absolves soldier who grabbed Ziad Abu Ein by the neck, defends tear gas use during December clash, Channel 10 reports

A border policeman grabs Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein (L) during a demonstration in the West Bank on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)
A border policeman grabs Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein (L) during a demonstration in the West Bank on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)

An internal IDF probe of the death of a senior PA official in early December after a heated confrontation with soldiers cleared the troops of any wrongdoing, Channel 10 reported Tuesday.

Ziad Abu Ein died on December 10 on the way to a Ramallah hospital after being involved in a scuffle with Israeli troops near Turmusaya, in the northern West Bank.

Israeli officials have said a postmortem — attended by Palestinian and Jordanian physicians — showed Abu Ein died of a heart attack, possibly caused by the stress of the situation as well as a preexisting heart condition.

Palestinians disputed this claim, saying he died after being struck by soldiers and inhaling tear gas.

The findings in the preliminary investigation, carried out by the IDF’s Central Command, maintained that all soldiers on the scene — including one who was recorded grabbing Abu Ein by his neck and yelling at him — acted in accordance with army regulations. Moreover, the use of tear gas at the protest was warranted, it said.

Due to the sensitive nature of the incident, the IDF investigation will be followed by a separate military police probe, the TV report said.

The death of the senior official was swiftly condemned by US and Britain, who called for a swift investigation, and was followed with threats of retaliatory measures from Ramallah.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon expressed regret for the death at the time and said a military inquiry had been launched.

The Palestinian Authority threatened to cut off security cooperation with Israel in retaliation, but ultimately decided against it.

Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, was extradited from the US to Israel in 1981 for his role in orchestrating a terrorist bombing two years earlier that killed two Israeli teens.

He was released during a 1985 prisoner swap that saw the release of three Israel Defense Forces soldiers captured in Lebanon. He also served as deputy minister for prisoner affairs.

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