The US and Britain joined in international calls for an investigation into the death of senior Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein following clashes with Israeli troops Wednesday.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States was “deeply concerned” by the death of Abu Ein and called for the Israeli investigation into the incident to be “swift, fair and transparent.”
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was shocked by the death of the minister and called for a “swift and transparent” investigation, while appealing for calm.
“Every Palestinian and Israeli has a right to live in peace and security. We urge leaders on all sides to redouble efforts to reduce tensions and promote calm,” he said in a statement.
The US and the UK joined calls by the UN and the EU in roundly condemning the incident in which Abu Ein, who headed the Palestinian Authority agency that lobbies against the security barrier and settlements, died Wednesday morning on the way to a Ramallah hospital after being involved in a scuffle with Israeli troops near Turmusaya, south of the Shiloh settlement in the northern West Bank.
Palestinian witnesses said Abu Ein, 55, inhaled tear gas and was hit by a soldier’s rifle butt, but an Israeli witness claimed Abu Ein had not been physically struck with a weapon.
Osama Najar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry, said an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed a personal message to the Palestinian Authority pledging that Israel would investigate the death, and urging restraint.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry published a statement expressing concern over the possible “escalation” while a Jordanian government spokesman said the incident amounted to a “clear violation of human rights” by the IDF.
Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said the death of Abu Ein offers “new evidence for the state terrorism practiced by the racist Israeli government against the unarmed Palestinian people,” according to a translation provided by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
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 year earlier 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.