‘This appears to be a tragedy that could have been avoided’ - Philip Luther
The death of a Palestinian minister during a protest against land confiscations in the West Bank today may have resulted from arbitrary and abusive force by Israeli forces against demonstrators, said Amnesty International.
Ziad Abu Ein, who headed a committee that opposed the West Bank wall and Israeli settlements, died after a confrontation with Israeli forces in the village of Turmus’ayya. Photographs posted online showed Israeli forces grabbing his throat.
Conflicting reports have emerged about the cause of his death with some sources suggesting he was hit in the chest with a tear gas canister, and other sources saying he suffered complications as a result of exposure to tear gas. Witnesses also said he was beaten by Israeli forces.
Shortly before his death Ziad Abu Ein told news reporters that the protest had been peaceful. “We came to plant trees on Palestinian land”, he said, “and they launched into an attack on us from the first moment. Nobody threw a single stone.”
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
“This appears to be a tragedy that could have been avoided.
“The Israeli forces have an abysmal track record when it comes to policing protests and have frequently resorted to the unnecessary or excessive use of force against protesters in the West Bank, resulting in numerous unlawful killings. And they continue to do so with impunity.
“There must be an independent, impartial investigation into his death.
“This incident only serves to highlight how crucial it is that Israeli forces who use excessive force, including unnecessary lethal force during protests, are held to account for their actions.
“Without accountability more lives will be needlessly lost.”
Trigger-happy Israeli forces
In recent months tensions in the West Bank have erupted into full-blown violence, with several deaths on both sides.