OHCHR Calls for Swift, Transparent Investigation into Minister Abu Ein’s Death

NEW YORK, December 13, 2014 – (WAFA) – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called Friday for a swift and transparent investigation into Minister Ziad Abu Ein’s death.

In a press release issued Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein stated that “reports of excessive use of force by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have risen sharply.”

Zeid urged the Israeli authorities to “take urgent steps to halt continuing injuries and fatalities occurring during protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to ensure meaningful investigations into all such incidents.”

Zeid’s call came just days after Minister Ziad Abu Ein died as a result of being injured during a peaceful event which aimed at planting olive trees on lands threatened with being seized for illegal settlement construction near the village of Turmusayya to the northeast of Ramallah.

A recent autopsy revealed that Abu Ein suffered from a narrowing of the coronary artery accompanied by a bleeding in the inner lining of the heart as a result of pressure that goes with cases of severe agony and distress.

The autopsy also revealed that Abu Ein also suffered from a wounding to his front teeth, bruises on the tongue, neck, from both right and left sides, and further bruises on the thyroid cartilage. The results revealed traces of teargas.

Videos circulating on social media showed that Abu Ein was grabbed by his throat and hit in the chest by the butt of an Israeli soldier’s gun. He was severely assaulted by Israeli soldiers before he fully collapsed to the ground. Abu Ein went into a coma and was later pronounced dead.

“The incidents that preceded the Minister’s death are disturbing and must be carefully investigated,” Zeid said. “I express my deepest condolences to Ziad Abu Ein’s family, and to the people of Palestine. It is a terrible and deeply tragic irony that he should die in this way after taking part in a peaceful protest against illegal settlements, centred around the planting of olive trees, on Human Rights Day.”

Referring to shooting a 14-year-old Palestinian boy in the head with live ammunition by Israeli forces on 10 December in Jalazone refugee camp, Zeid stated: “The wounding of this child must also be properly investigated,” and noted that reports of excessive use of force by Israeli security forces, which have resulted in the deaths, including of children, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, have risen sharply.

“This continuous stream of fatal incidents underscores the need for effective accountability measures,” Zeid said.

He stressed that any investigation by Israeli forces into the circumstances of Abu Ein’s death “– and all others involving possible excessive use of force — should be thorough, effective, independent and impartial. It must also be quick and utterly transparent if people are to have faith in its findings.”

“Peaceful protest is a human right, and security forces must exercise appropriate restraint when policing protests in accordance with international standards,” Zeid added. “Because of the well-established illegal nature of the Israeli settlements in the West bank and East Jerusalem, such protests will inevitably continue.”

Zeid also reiterated that settlements are in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which establishes that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.