IDF prepares for West Bank clashes following minister's death
Demonstrations taking place in Qalandiya and Jilazun; Israeli pathologist to take part in autopsy of Zaid Abu Ein, who died at West Bank protest.
The IDF is preparing for clashes across the West Bank following the death of Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein, who died on Wednesday at a protest in the West Bank. Clashes have already been reported near the Qalandiya checkpoint and in the West Bank refugee camp Jilazun.
Witnesses and officials said Abu Ein, the Palestinian minister in charge of the Settlements and Annexation Wall portfolio, died Wednesday shortly after being hit and shoved by Israeli soldiers during a protest near Ramallah. These reports have been disputed, including by Israeli journalists present at the scene, and according to some reports in Israeli media, the army believes Abu Ein suffered a heart attack, but is continuing to investigate.
The Palestinian Authority has agreed to allow an Israeli pathologist from the Abu Kabir Forensics Institute take part in the autopsy.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, agreed on the participation of the Israeli pathologist with his Palestinian counterpart Huseein al-Sheikh. According to the IDF, Mordechai also offered al-Sheikh to set up a joint team to investigate the incident.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced three days of mourning and halted all contacts and security coordination with Israel. Abu Ein will be buried Thursday, and an autopsy is being conducted.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Middle East, Robert Serry, urged Israel to investigate the incident: "I urge the Israeli authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstance of his death and appeal for calm."
Abu Ein, a prominent member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, was taking part in the protest held as part of the struggle of Palestinian villages Turmusiya and Al Mugheir against the illegal settlement outpost of Adei Ad, which has taken control of their land and prevented them from cultivating it.
To mark International Human Rights Day, Israeli rights group Yesh Din on Wednesday petitioned the High Court of Justice to evacuate the outpost.
The minister fainted and a Palestinian Authority ambulance evacuated him from the scene, in the village of Turmusiya, to the hospital in the nearby Palestinian city of Ramallah. He died en route. Abu Ein suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure, his family said.
The army has launched an investigation into the circumstances of Abu Ein's death. According the IDF, an altercation erupted between Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers and Palestinians. Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters.