Palestinian official dies after confrontation with Israeli soldiers in West Bank

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A senior Palestinian official died after a confrontation with Israeli soldiers during a protest in the West Bank.

Ziad Abu Ein, 55, died Wednesday in the village of Turmusiya near Ramallah. Dozens of local residents and activists were protesting the Jewish settlement outpost Adei Ad by planting olive trees on land that they believe is in danger of being confiscated by Israel.

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The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that Israeli soldiers beat Abu Ein and that he suffered severe tear gas inhalation.

An Israeli photographer who was standing next to Abu Ein during the demonstration said in a tweet that he did not see the Palestinian official get struck by soldiers.

Abu Ein lost consciousness and his heart stopped beating en route to Ramallah Public Hospital, Maan reported. His family said he had diabetes and high blood pressure.

The Israel Defense Forces said it is reviewing what occurred at the demonstration leading to the reported death of Abu Ein.

President Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a statement called the alleged attack on Abu Ein a “barbaric action that cannot be ignored or accepted.” He also said he would take “the proper actions after the investigation reveals how he was killed.”

Abu Ein was a member of the Fatah movement’s Revolutionary Council, and previously served as undersecretary to the minister of prisoner affairs. At the time of his death he was head of the committee against the separation wall and settlements. According to the Times of Israel, he was extradited to Israel from the United States to face charges that he was involved in a 1979 bombing that killed two Israeli teens. He was released during a 1985 prisoner swap, according to the news website.