Officials from the Israeli military and the Palestinian Authority agreed that an Israeli pathologist would join a Jordanian team conducting an autopsy on a senior Palestinian official who died after clashing with IDF soldiers on Wednesday afternoon, the Israeli army said in a statement.
The announcement came as a senior Palestinian official said the PA would halt security coordination with Israel and restart its unilateral bid for international recognition in the wake of the death of Ziad Abu Ein.
The IDF said it had also proposed the Palestinians team up with Israel for a joint probe into the incident, the statement said.
Abu Ein died en route to a Ramallah hospital Wednesday after he was struck in the chest by an IDF soldier, Palestinian reports said. The IDF said it was “reviewing the circumstances of the participation of Ziad Abu Ein, and his later death.”
His funeral is scheduled for Thursday, Israeli news site Ynet reported.
It was not immediately clear if a Palestinian representative was set to attend the autopsy as well, and whether the Palestinians accepted the IDF offer to collaborate in the investigation.
The Israeli participation in the forensic investigation was coordinated by Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav (Poli) Mordechai, and his Palestinian counterpart, Hussein Al-Sheikh, the IDF said.
There was no immediate Palestinian or Jordanian confirmation.
Abu Ein, who headed the PA government agency that campaigns against the security barrier and settlements, was involved in a scuffle with Israeli troops near Turmusaya, south of the Shiloh settlement in the northern West Bank, during which he inhaled tear gas and was hit by a soldier’s rifle butt, Palestinian witnesses said. An Israeli witness, meanwhile, said that Abu Ein was not hit by a rifle butt.
Abu Ein, 55, collapsed at the site and was evacuated by ambulance, but he died before he reached the hospital.
Footage from the demonstration showed Abu Ein lying on the ground and clutching his chest before his evacuation from the scene.
The IDF said it had been preventing the entrance of some 200 “rioters” into an Israeli settlement when the clash occurred.
A top Fatah leader, Jibril Rajoub, told The Times of Israel that the Palestinian Authority would cease all security coordination with Israel in the West Bank in the wake of Abu Ein’s death.
There was no immediate announcement of such a decision by Abbas’s office.
Rajoub said the PA had no choice but to respond given that Israel had “crossed a red line.” He said the cessation of security coordination was open-ended. The PA will also now immediately apply for membership in international organizations, Rajoub said, referring to the dozens of United Nations and other forums that the PA has long threatened to seek to join in unilateral moves opposed by Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned “the brutal assault that led to the martyrdom” of Abu Ein, calling it “a barbaric act that cannot be tolerated or accepted,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said. “We will take the necessary measures after the results of the investigation into the incident,” Abbas said and announced a three-day mourning period for Abu Ein.
Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, was extradited from the US to Israel in 1981 for a 1979 terrorist bombing that killed two Israeli teens.
He was released during a 1985 prisoners swap that saw three IDF soldiers captured in Lebanon set free. He has also served as deputy minister for prisoner affairs.
Mitch Ginsburg, Avi Issacharoff, Lazar Berman, Elhanan Miller, AP and AFP contributed to this report.