Operating doctors have expressed doubt about the official explanation for the cause of death of an Eritrean migrant found near the Israel-Egypt border earlier this month, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said Tuesday.

In a statement released on Tuesday, PHR-Israel quoted operating physicians who said there is a “significant gap” between the IDF report on the circumstances of the man’s injuries, and the type that led to his death.

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The organization said that paramedics brought an Eritrean migrant to the emergency room at Eilat’s Yoseftal Hospital in serious condition shortly after he crossed the Egyptian border into Israel with a group of African migrants.

The PHR-Israel press release said that the paramedics reportedly said that IDF troops told them the man suffered a head injury after he jumped or fell from a moving IDF jeep for reasons unknown, while the jeep was traveling at around 40 km/h. The man was later transferred to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for neurological treatment, where he died on January 13.

The organization said both Dr. Kobi Arad, the head of the emergency care department at Yoseftal Hospital and Dr. Tamir Shai, the surgeon who treated the migrant at Yoseftal, have expressed doubts about the explanation of the cause of the man’s injuries.

“In our opinion, there is a significant gap, impossible to piece together, between the nature of the description of injury that we received, and the results of the examination,” he said.

The doctors said that if the injuries involved falling from a car moving at a moderate speed “there would have been an expectation of signs of injuries on a number of places on the body, internally and externally. The absolute absence of such wounds place a large question mark on the description given.”

The doctors added that the most likely injury was a “direct blow to the back of the head/neck of the wounded man.”

The army spokesperson’s office told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that the man was part of a group of nine Eritreans that was found by troops after crossing into Israel and placed on a convoy of jeeps heading to a nearby base. The army said that troops serving at the scene reported that some of the men attempted to flee fearing that they would be turned over to immigration authorities and that at some point in transit one of them fell and suffered a head injury.

The army said that they are not sure at this point what led to the man’s injury but that all relevant officers from the IDF medical branch, military police investigative branch, and the division command are investigating the incident in order to determine exactly what happened. The army added that if it turns out that there is some sort of criminal aspect that led to the man’s death the military police will handle the issue accordingly.
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