Palestinians weigh legal action after death of elderly man in Israeli custody

Family of Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad says IDF conduct shows racism and discrimination and letting go of officers allegedly responsible for death not enough; claim firing done only because he was an American citizen

Elior Levy, Yoav Zitun, Itamar Eichner|
Family members of an elderly Palestinian man who died in custody after being detained by Israeli troops in the West Bank, are considering taking legal action against the military.
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  • Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, 78, who was also a U.S. national, was found dead earlier this month after being detained in the 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 IDF said on Monday it was dismissing two officers and would reprimand a battalion commander over the death.
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    Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad
    "We are not satisfied with the firing of the two IDF officers. We don't think that's enough," a member of As'ad's family said. "This was a crime against an old man who had never done anything wrong," As'ad's brother said. "We are all human beings, and these actions are indicative of racism and discrimination."
    In the family's opinion, the fact that As'ad had an American citizenship was the only cause for the insufficient steps that were taken in the wake of his death.
    State Department Spokesmen Ned Price said on Tuesday the United States is expecting a "full criminal investigation and to take full responsibility" for the death of As'ad.
    In a press briefing, Price was asked if the U.S was satisfied with the answers provided by Israel and he replied: "We are still concerned about the circumstances of the death of As'ad, who is an American citizen."
    Price added that according to a statement by the IDF, the officers involved demonstrated "a moral failure and poor decision-making."
    The military at the time said As'ad was alive when the soldiers left him.
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    The plastic restraint that was used to apprehend Oamar Abdalmajeed As'ad
    In a summary of its investigation, 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.
    "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.
    "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.
    Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said a core value of the IDF military - to protect the dignity of human life - had been violated.
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