The United States will “directly” address the death of Omar Assad, an elderly U.S. citizen killed by Israeli forces last year, “directly” with Israel after the Israeli military announced it would not pursue criminal charges in the case .
In early 2021, 80-year-old Assad suffered a stress-induced heart attack after being arbitrarily detained, bound, blindfolded and gagged by the Israeli army, before being abandoned unconscious on a cold construction site in the occupied territories. western bank.
The Israeli military said on Tuesday it had found no “causal link” between how soldiers treated Assad and the American citizen’s death.
The State Department, which has often reiterated that the safety of Americans abroad is its top priority, said on Wednesday it was looking into the Israeli findings.
“We are aware of the conclusions of the investigation and we are seeking additional information about it from the Israeli government,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters. “We will discuss the matter directly with them.”
Mueller said Washington wanted “full accountability” in the case as soon as possible.
“We have made clear our deep concern about the circumstances surrounding the death of Omar Assad and the need for such accountability,” he added.
Assad was one of two U.S. citizens killed by Israel last year — the other was Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akelah, who was killed while reporting on a raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Israeli troops shot.
Israeli authorities rarely prosecute its military for abuses against Palestinians, but the United States strongly opposes efforts by Palestinians to seek accountability at the International Criminal Court, including in the case of Abu Akleh.
Israel, accused of apartheid by major human rights groups such as Amnesty International, receives at least $3.8 billion in U.S. aid each year.
President Joe Biden and his top aides have often emphasized Washington’s “strong” commitment to Israel.
Adam Shapiro, director of Israeli-Palestinian advocacy at the US-based rights group Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN), called for accountability for Assad’s killing.
He said the Biden administration should apply the Leahy law, which prohibits U.S. aid to foreign troops involved in serious human rights violations, to Israeli Netzah Yehuda forces involved in the killing of Assad.
Shapiro added that the State Department had been looking at the case through the lens of the Leahy Law after DAWN filed a referral to the U.S. government last October, emphasizing that blindfolding Assad violated Israeli regulations.
Shapiro told Al Jazeera: “We believe that not only should this process continue, but the conclusion of the Israeli investigation requires the State Department to now impose Lehi Act sanctions on the department.”
He added that by blindfolding Assad, Israeli soldiers “acted deliberately and deliberately, in violation of their own rules”. He said the Palestinian autopsy report on Assad’s death indicated that gagging and blindfolding by an elderly American citizen caused his heart attack.
“We have a direct causal link from the deliberate illegal actions of Israeli soldiers to Assad’s death,” Shapiro said.
Osama Abuirshaid, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), expressed concern about Wednesday’s State Department statement.
“It’s the same message — ‘We’re following up; we’re in touch with our Israeli counterparts; we’re asking the Israelis to investigate. But when the findings come out and they don’t meet expectations, we don’t see a U.S. response, ’ Abul Sheid told Al Jazeera.
In February 2022, Washington welcomed an Israeli report that Assad’s death “shows a clear lapse in moral judgment” and announced disciplinary action against the commander of Netzah Yehuda’s forces.
“The United States wants a thorough criminal investigation and full accountability in this case,” the State Department said at the time.
Abulscheid said that if the Biden administration does not impose consequences for Israel’s killing of Assad, then it abdicates its responsibility to protect American citizens.
“Our problem is not only with Israel and its abuse of American citizens, our problem is primarily with our own government — our own government — which allows Israel to continue to abuse American citizens,” said Abuel Sheid, who also Reference was made to the killing of Abu Akr.