Tensions escalated in West Bank and east Jerusalem on Thursday as clashes erupted between the Palestinians and Israeli border police over conflicting reports on the death of a Palestinian Cabinet minister.
Ziad Abu Ein died following a scuffle with the Israeli troops during a protest demonstration on Wednesday near Adei Ad, an Israeli outpost in the West Bank.
In a statement, the Palestinian Authority (PA) blamed Israel for his "murder". Though the Israeli pathologist who participated in the autopsy claimed that the team, which included a Palestinian and a Jordanian pathologist, concluded that Abu Ein died of stress-induced heart attack. "The autopsy results of Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein show that he died after a powerful blow to the diaphragm and the heavy use of tear gas", Hussein al-Sheikh, Palestinian minister of civil affairs, said.
"The reason for the death of Abu Ein was his being hit by (Israeli) occupation troops...," he said. "We will refer the autopsy results to the Palestinian leadership to take the decisions they want," al-Sheikh said adding that "if Israel admits to the murder of Abu Ein, there will be no need to go to the International Criminal Court." Sabir al-Aloul, director of forensic medicine in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told Ma'an news agency that a strike to Abu Ein's face dislodged his front teeth and forced them to the back of his throat, near the epiglottis. "After hearing the results of the post-mortem, the
Palestinian government holds Israel fully responsible for the killing of Ziad Abu Ein," PA spokesman Ihab Bseiso said.
However, Israel's Health Ministry's version of the cause of the death says that the three pathologists concluded that the death was caused by blockage in the coronary artery, and that there were signs of light internal bleeding and localised pressure on the neck. The deceased suffered from heart disease, and there was evidence that plaque buildup were clogging more than 80 per cent of his blood vessels, as well as signs that he had suffered heart attacks in the past, Israeli media reported. Abu Ein's died during a demonstration by 300 Palestinians who wanted to plant Olive trees as a symbolic act of protest against Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Dr Hen Kugel, the Israeli doctor who took part in the Dr Hen Kugel, the Israeli doctor who took part in the autopsy, told news portal Ynet that the report was not final and that they were awaiting on the return of some tests. A video footage from the incident shows Abu Ein sitting on the ground after the clash, holding his chest.
Palestinians claim he had inhaled tear gas. The video is then cut-off and footage from moments before his collapse are shown, in which Abu Ein gets up and walks towards an IDF jeep, where a confrontation develops between him and one of the soldiers. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday warned Israel that "all options are open" for a Palestinian response to the death of Abu Ein. "What happened is a crime by all means, we cannot sit idle and silent (after) this crime," CNN quoted Abbas as saying during an emergency session of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office also issued a statement Wednesday saying Israel will investigate the incident. Abu Ein's portfolio included organising protests against Israeli settlements and the West Bank separation barrier.