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US seeks answers after Israel fails to charge soldier over death of elderly American citizen

June 15, 2023 at 4:40 pm

Relatives mourn during the funeral ceremony held for Palestinian Omar Asaad, who was found dead after being detained by Israeli troops in the West Bank on 13 January 2022 [Ahmad Arouri/ApaImages]

The US yesterday announced that it is requesting Israel provide it with further information after the military said no criminal charges will be filed against soldiers who killed an 80-year-old Palestinian-American last year during a raid in the occupied West Bank.

“We’re seeking more information from the Israeli government. We’re going to talk to them directly about it,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a press briefing yesterday.

Omar Abdulmajeed Asaad and members of his family were going home after visiting relatives when their cars were stopped by soldiers. “They stopped the cars in the village centre and arrested the passengers inside and handcuffed them,” his brother, Fuad Moutee, told AFP.

READ: PA condemns Israel for not indicting soldiers who killed elderly Palestinian 

He said soldiers stormed the village and detained Asaad after beating and handcuffing him. The soldiers then withdrew, leaving the elderly man lying on the ground inside a house under construction, where he died.

Miller added that “Israel itself stated that the incident showed a clear lapse of moral judgement and a failure to protect the sanctity of human life.”

However, the Israeli Military Advocate General has said there will be no criminal prosecution because a military medic found it impossible to determine that Asaad’s death was caused specifically by the soldiers’ conduct, and that the soldiers could not have been aware of his medical condition.

The US said at the time of Asaad’s murder that it expects a thorough criminal investigation to be carried out and for those responsible to be held fully accountable.

In a statement, State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said the US continues to be “deeply concerned by the circumstances” of the death of 80-year-old Omar Abdulmajeed Asaad.

It comes after the US urged Israel last week to re-evaluate its deadly violence and the practices it imposes during military raids against Palestinians following the murder of two-year-old Mohammed Al-Tamimi from the village of Nabi Saleh.

READ: Israel kills yet another young Palestinian in occupied West Bank