US seeks answers from Israel on citizen’s death, army avoids charges

US authorities are planning to address the case of Omar Assad, an 80-year-old American citizen who was killed by Israeli forces last year, directly with Israel. This decision comes after the Israeli military opted not to pursue criminal charges in the case, claiming there was no “causal link” between Assad’s stress-induced heart attack and the actions of the soldiers. The US State Department is seeking further information on the investigation from the Israeli government.

Omar Assad’s tragic death took place early last year after he was detained, bound, blindfolded, and gagged by Israeli forces, then left unresponsive at a cold construction site in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army maintains that the way its soldiers treated Assad was not responsible for his death.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller emphasised Washington’s expectation of “full accountability” in the case and shared concerns about the circumstances of Assad’s demise. Miller stated they would be talking “directly” about the issue with Israel.

Last year, Assad was one of two US citizens killed by Israeli forces; the other being Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who died after being shot while reporting on a raid in Jenin.

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Given that Israeli authorities seldom prosecute abuses perpetrated by their forces against Palestinians, the Leahy Law has been proposed as a means of holding those responsible accountable. The Leahy Law prohibits US aid from being provided to foreign forces involved in severe human rights violations. Adam Shapiro, director of advocacy for Israel-Palestine at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), argued that this law should be applied to the Netzah Yehuda unit responsible for Assad’s death.

In response to the Israeli investigation, Osama Abuirshaid, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), expressed his concerns about the State Department’s statement and the lack of an American response when Israel’s investigations fail to meet expectations. He maintained that if the Biden administration does not enforce consequences on Israel for Assad’s killing, they will be neglecting their duty to protect US citizens.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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