Democrats seek answers about death of elderly Palestinian-American

US State Department Ned Price said the Biden administration has sought clarification from Israel on the matter.

 Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian-American Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, 80, who was found dead after being detained and handcuffed during an Israeli raid, in Jiljilya village in the West Bank, January 13, 2022. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian-American Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, 80, who was found dead after being detained and handcuffed during an Israeli raid, in Jiljilya village in the West Bank, January 13, 2022.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

At least six US Democratic politicians have called for answers with respect to the death of Omar Mohammad As’ad, an elderly Palestinian-American after he was briefly detained by the IDF last week.

“My heart is with Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad as they grieve this awful loss with real uncertainty,” Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan tweeted.

“The circumstances surrounding his death are gravely concerning and we need a full and thorough investigation to get answers and now.”

As’ad, 80, had a known history of cardiac issues. It is presumed that his cause of death was likely due to a heart attack.

The Palestinian Authority has conducted an autopsy, the results of which are due out in the coming days. The IDF Military Police Criminal Investigation Division is also investigating the matter.

 Men stand next to a poster of Palestinian Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, 80, in Jiljilya village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 12, 2022. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS) Men stand next to a poster of Palestinian Omar Abdalmajeed As'ad, 80, in Jiljilya village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 12, 2022. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration has sought clarification from Israel on the matter.

Democratic lawmakers and a number of Palestinians from As’ad’s village have said they are concerned that the IDF soldiers who detained As’ad, beat him prior to his death.

Rep. Marie Newman of Illinois tweeted, “I am deeply disturbed by reports of Israeli troops dragging, beating and leaving an 80-year-old Palestinian-American on the ground, where he later died of a heart attack. I echo the [State Department] in demanding a full investigation into his death.”

Rep. Debbie McCollum of Minnesota tweeted that As’ad was “now another victim of this cruel occupation.”

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.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin tweeted, “This is a terrible tragedy that demands a thorough investigation, and I want to extend my condolences to the [As’ad] family, including those in Wisconsin who are mourning this tragic loss and deserve answers.”

Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin posted a similar tweet.

Rep. Rashid Talib tweeted, “this is outrageous. I call on [US Secretary of State Antony Blinken] to investigate.”

The IDF said its soldiers had briefly detained As’ad while they carried out an overnight operation last Wednesday in his village of Jiljilya. A spokesperson explained that he had resisted a security check and that As’ad was alive when released from custody.

His funeral was delayed until Thursday so that the PA could perform an autopsy. Jiljilya Village Council head Fouad Qattoum said it is likely that As’ad died from a heart attack due to stress from his arrest.

Village physician Islam Abu Zaher, who treed to revive As’ad early Wednesday morning, said he could not find a pulse and that there were no obvious signs of injury.

“It is possible that he suffered a heart attack or some form of panic,” Abu Zaher told Reuters, noting that As’ad had previously undergone open-heart surgery and cardiac catheterization.

Qattoum said As’ad was returning home after visiting relatives, when Israeli soldiers stopped his car, bound him, blindfolded him and led him to a building that was still under construction.

Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.