International Transport Fed backs calls for independent investigation into Arab bus driver’s death

ITF cites concern over Palestinian drivers’ claims of ongoing intimidation and attacks in capital amid religious and political strife.

By
November 24, 2014 20:58
2 minute read.
Yusuf al-Ramouni

Yusuf al-Ramouni, the bus driver from east Jerusalem who was found hanged Sunday night‏.. (photo credit: PALESTINIAN MEDIA)

 
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Citing a climate of pronounced religious and political tension in Jerusalem, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on Monday pledged support to its Palestinian- led member union for an independent probe of the suicide of Egged transit company bus driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni.

Ramouni, 32, was found dead by hanging inside a bus at the start of the route he was supposed to have driven on the evening of November 16 at an Egged bus stop in Har Hotzvim, an area of northwestern Jerusalem close to Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.

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Following his death, an onslaught of claims in the Palestinian media alleged that Ramouni was murdered by Jewish settlers, despite an autopsy report released within 24 hours concluding his death was self-inflicted.

Nonetheless, a chorus of accusations from Ramouni’s family of a police cover-up resulted in a strike by Arab Egged workers, many of whom did not report for work for two days, disrupting service throughout the capital.

Citing chronic “intimidation and attacks” by Israelis, the Palestinian General Transport Workers Union subsequently demanded that international experts conduct a second investigation.

In a statement released Monday by the ITF – which has over 650 member organizations in roughly 150 countries – it expressed concern over Egged’s Palestinian drivers’ safety.

“The PGTWU has said that the recent failure of peace talks, and the absence of any real pathway being offered towards an end to the occupation and for a permanent and just peace, have led to an environment of tension in which escalating incidents could easily lead to ‘a religious war,’” the statement read.

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Referencing the Har Nof massacre, during which two Arab terrorists killed five men and wounded more than half-a-dozen others days after Ramouni’s death, the ITF wrote that it “unreservedly condemns all the recent sectarian killings and violence used against both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Amid such strife and allegations of abuse , ITF president Paddy Crumlin said that the federation “strongly supports” the PGTWU’s call for an independent investigation as a means of reassuring Palestinian drivers that the matter is amicably resolved.

“It is vital that there is no further escalation of violence and that all attacks and the death of Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni are investigated in a manner that has the confidence of the community,” said Crumlin.

A police official patently denied a cover up in Ramouni’s death on Monday.

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