IDF dismisses two officers over death of elderly Palestinian

Military spokesperson says soldiers exhibited 'moral failure and poor decision-making,' in what it called a grave and unfortunate event, violating a core value to protect life

Ynet, Reuters|
The IDF said on Monday it was dismissing two officers and would reprimand a battalion commander over the death of an elderly Palestinian earlier this month, who spent several hours in Israeli custody.
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  • The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the death was a result of "a moral failure and poor decision-making."
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    עומר אסעד
    Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad
    Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, 78, who was also a U.S. national, was found dead after being detained by troops in the West Bank village of Jiljilya on Jan. 12. A Palestinian autopsy found As'ad, who had pre-existing heart conditions, had suffered sudden cardiac arrest caused by the stress of being manhandled. The military at the time said As'ad was alive when the soldiers left him.
    In a summary of its investigation on Monday, the military said it found that As'ad had refused to cooperate with troops operating in the area and that "his hands were tied and he was gagged for a short time."
    After being detained for half an hour, As'ad and three others were released.
    "The soldiers did not identify signs of distress or other suspicious signs concerning As'ad's health. The soldiers assessed that As'ad was asleep and did not try to wake him," according the military statement.
    "The investigation concluded that the incident was a grave and unfortunate event, resulting from a moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers," it said.
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    עמר אסעד פלסטיני בן 80
    עמר אסעד פלסטיני בן 80
    A zip ties on the hand of Omar As'ad
    Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said a core value of the IDF military - to protect the dignity of human life - had been violated, it said.
    "It was further determined that there was no use of violence during the incident apart from when Assad was apprehended after refusing to cooperate," it said. "The soldiers failed in their obligations by leaving Assad lying on the floor without the required treatment and without reporting the incident back to their commanders."
    After the autopsy, a U.S. embassy spokesman in Jerusalem said it was "deeply saddened" by As'ad's death and it supported "a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the incident."
    Palestinian leaders have called for the soldiers involved to be prosecuted in an international court.
    As'ad was a former Milwaukee, Wisconsin, resident who lived in the United States for decades and returned to the West Bank 10 years ago, his brother said.
    Military police were carrying out their own criminal investigation, whose findings will be submitted to the Military Advocate Corps for a legal review and determinations, the military said.
    Ynet has learned that the chief military prosecutor, who is overseeing the investigation herself, approved the expedited proceedings following local media and international criticism and in light of the victim having American citizenship.
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