Palestinian-American had injuries, heart attack after IDF arrest, autopsy shows

An autopsy of the elderly man confirmed he'd been handcuffed and blindfolded • the IDF is expected to make a public statement in the coming days about the incident

 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 Israeli-occupied 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 Israeli-occupied West Bank, January 13, 2022.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

An autopsy has found that a 78-year-old Palestinian-American detained by the IDF earlier this month died of “stress-induced sudden cardiac arrest due to external injuries.”

The 12-page autopsy conducted by the Palestinian Authority confirmed that Omar Abadalmajeed As’ad had been handcuffed and blindfolded.

According to the autopsy report, a black zip tie often used by the IDF when detaining Palestinians was found on As’ad’s right wrist, which had a bruised abrasion. 

The body arrived at the forensic institute together with a white and green cloth often used by the IDF to blindfold detainees. Bruises were found on As’ad’s head, but with no injuries to the skull. The report also found bleeding in the inner and lower part of the eyelids caused by the blindfold.

IDF forces at the scene of an attempted stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction on January 17, 2022. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)IDF forces at the scene of an attempted stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction on January 17, 2022. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Jiljilya Mayor Fuad Qattum said he was not surprised by the results of the autopsy.

“The soldiers treated him in a violent manner,” said Qattum. “They dragged him and beat him. We are planning to file a lawsuit against the soldiers.”

As’ad was found early in the morning of January 12 in the West Bank village of Jiljilya. His family said he was detained by soldiers at a checkpoint at the entrance to the village.

Residents of Jiljilya said that As’ad, who had heart problems, was handcuffed, blindfolded and led to a building under construction.

The IDF said he was “apprehended after resisting a check,” and that he was alive when the soldiers released him. But villagers said they found his body at the construction site, and that attempts to resuscitate him failed.

The United States has sought clarification from Israel on details of As’ad death. He had lived in Milwaukee but had returned to the West Bank a decade ago.

Three soldiers and two officers were questioned by police under warning, Ynet reported on Monday. Charges are not expected to be brought against them, but the IDF Central Command is expected to make a public statement in the coming days about the incident, according to the report. Disciplinary action is expected to be taken against those involved.T

The Military Police investigation into the event is expected to finish next week. It will be followed by an operational investigation in which command measures are expected to be brought against the officers and soldiers in the battalion, Ynet reported.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.