Israel to pay family of dead Palestinian American detainee

Israel to compensate octogenarian Omar Asaad’s family with $141,000 after he was detained by Israeli soldiers and died in January.

Omar Assad
Mourners carry the body of Omar Asaad, 80, during his funeral [File: Nasser Nasser/AP Photo]

Israel said on Sunday that it has reached a settlement to compensate the family of an elderly Palestinian American man who died after its soldiers used force to detain him in the occupied West Bank.

The settlement marks a rare case of compensation for a Palestinian claim against alleged wrongdoing by Israeli forces. The man’s death also caused equally rare United States criticism of Israel.

“In light of the unfortunate event’s unique circumstances,” Israel’s defence ministry said it had agreed to pay the family of Omar Abdulmajeed Asaad 500,000 shekels ($141,000).

In January, Asaad, 80, was driving home when Israeli soldiers stopped him during a military operation. His nephew said the soldiers handcuffed, blindfolded and dragged him to the ground.

Asaad, who had lived in the US for four decades, was pronounced dead at a hospital after other detained Palestinians found him unconscious. It was unclear exactly when he died.

Asaad’s family filed a claim against the state in an Israeli court.

The Israeli military issued a rare statement this year after an outcry from the US government. It called the incident “a grave and unfortunate event, resulting from moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers”.

It said one officer was reprimanded and two other officers reassigned to non-command roles over the incident.

Justice and compensation for Palestinians who are killed by Israeli forces or die in custody are unusual.

In May, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. At the time, the Palestinian American reporter was wearing a helmet and flak jacket clearly marked “press”.

The Israeli military has said there is a “high possibility” she was “accidentally hit” by gunfire from an Israeli soldier. The investigation was criticised by Palestinian officials, human rights campaigners and Abu Akleh’s family.

Israel said it will not launch a criminal investigation into her killing. Abu Akleh’s death sparked international outrage and calls from her family and press freedom advocates for an independent investigation.

Top US officials, including President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also called for “accountability” when asked about the case.

Al Jazeera has referred Abu Akleh’s case to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.


Source: News Agencies