Israeli police find no wrongdoing in death of Palestinian minister beaten during protest
BETHLEHEM – Israeli police have closed their investigation into the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein — who died in 2014 after being beaten by Israeli forces — concluding that he had died of natural causes, Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported on Wednesday.
According to Arutz Sheva, an autopsy by the police department of internal investigations concluded that Abu Ein, 55, died of a heart attack on Dec. 10, 2014, after an Israeli border police officer beat him in the chest with his helmet and the butt of his rifle during a march to plant olive trees in the village of Turmusayya in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which represents Abu Ein’s family in the case, expressed its outrage at the police’s decision to close the case without ever interrogating the border policeman suspected of killing Abu Ein or asking him to testify.
“Most cases of Israeli violence against Palestinians are closed. But we expected that at least a proper investigation would take place,” Yesh Din spokesman Gilad Grossman told Ma’an on Wednesday. “This shows Israeli armed forces’ impunity when committing violence against Palestinian civilians.”
“They closed the case without talking to the border police officer,” Grossman added, despite the fact that “a number of soldiers who were there during the incident said that the border police officer was acting violently even before the altercation” with Abu Ein.
The internal investigations department reportedly justified the decision not to interrogate the policeman.
“Since policemen are authorized to use force and it is expected of them in many cases to use it, Internal Investigations will not summon a policeman for investigation if there is not a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed,” Arutz Sheva quoted the department as saying.
Grossman said that Abu Ein’s family had already filed an appeal to the Israeli Ministry of Justice.
“Our opinion is that internal affairs must investigate the acts of the border policeman during the altercation, even if his actions were not the direct cause of Abu Ein’s death,” he said. “At least, they need to investigate whether his actions were within the proper limits of police action.”
Abu Ein had worked with the Palestinian Authority monitoring Israeli settlements and the separation wall, and was a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. Abu Ein had also previously served as Palestinian deputy minister of prisoners’ affairs.
The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs said a day after Abu Ein’s death that an autopsy carried out by a Palestinian forensics team revealed he had died after a powerful blow to the diaphragm and heavy use of tear gas, adding that he had also suffered from bruising on his neck, and several of his front teeth had been knocked out by a blow to his face.
At the time, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that the case was “a clear example of how the culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community permits it to continue committing crimes against the Palestinian people.”
The Israeli police’s decision to close its investigation in the case comes days after Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a report revealing that nearly all investigations opened over the killings of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli police in the past ten months were closed “without the unit investigating and questioning the officers.”