Death in Palestine: The truth about Ziad Abu Ein

Death in Palestine: The truth about Ziad Abu Ein
Comment: Closing the investigation of Ziad Abu Ein’s murder has precedents - all pointing towards Israel's incessant quest for impunity, writes Ramona Wadi.
4 min read
16 Aug, 2016
The international community seems to reserve a particular brand of impunity for Israel [Anadolu]

Human rights violations and absence of accountability are synonymous with Israel. It is by no means a new phenomenon but a prevalent characteristic of the settler-colonial state and its actions.

The closing of the investigation into the killing of Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein, who was attacked by Israeli soldiers during a peaceful demonstration in December 2014, is not an isolated occurrence but a recurring trend.

Indeed, the same trend is observed in different circumstances. Despite testimony, precedents and, at times, graphic footage, murder is persistently defined as "misconduct".

Recent news reports have embarked upon a recapitulation of the events which led to Abu Ein's death, coupled with observations that the Israeli police investigation was incomplete and eliminated testimonies in order to reach a vague conclusion referring to "problematic behaviours" exhibited by the officer who assaulted Abu Ein.

However, the investigation concluded that the assault, tear gas and choking of Abu Ein did not cause his death.

The autopsy tells a different story.

Despite agreeing with the autopsy results, the Israeli forensic specialist refused to sign the report

Conducted by Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian forensic specialists, it reveals that the Israeli soldier's assault of Abu Ein caused his death. However, despite agreeing with the autopsy results, the Israeli forensic specialist refused to sign the report. Indeed, Israel refuted the autopsy results, stating that Abu Ein died as a result of a heart attack.

In addition to the soldier's brutal assault, Abu Ein was also denied immediate medical treatment.

The Israeli internal investigation rejected criticisms of its mismanaged conduct, stating: "Since policemen are authorised to use force and it is expected of them in many cases to use it, Internal Investigations will not summon a policeman for investigation if there is not a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed."

Normalising murder

Abu Ein's case has generated considerable attention, given his prominence as minister and the implications of absolving the military of killing a political figure. However, the issue here is the normalising of violence and its approval by the Israeli state.

The "Jerusalem Intifada" has propelled this characteristic of Israel to the fore, given Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's legitimising of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians. Indeed, despite the lack of organisation exhibited by Palestinian youth, Israel's retaliatory practices exhibited an inherent tendency towards violence in how the colonial state prepares its strategy in advance.

Specific cases also shed light on the continuously forming narrative that is allowed to flourish by the international community. Arafat Jaradat, who was arrested in February 2013 for alleged stone throwing, died in Israeli custody in Megiddo Prison following interrogation at the hands of Shin Bet.

Jaradat's autopsy - conducted by Dr Saber al-Aloul - clearly stated that the cause of death in Jaradat's case was "nervous shock as a result of extreme pain from the injuries described above, which resulted from multiple direct and extensive acts of torture".

If not as a result of direct torture and excessive violence, Israel has also indulged in the intentional delay and withholding of medical treatment for Palestinian prisoners diagnosed with terminal illnesses.

Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh had complained of throat problems nine months prior to his death in January 2014 of throat cancer. In this case, Israel refused to give Abu Hamdiyeh medical treatment, instead providing painkillers. Authorities also withheld biopsy results until a month before his death.

Since its inception, Israel has refuted the validity of international law on several occasions

Extending impunity

The international political isolation of Palestinians has resulted in several serious consequences; including a perpetual disregard towards how the above-mentioned cases are part of an ever-growing trend of Israeli state action.

Since its inception, Israel has refuted the validity of international law on several occasions - an aberration which the international community has openly accepted and promoted. Hence, expecting any semblance of opposition to Israeli violence is not only impossible, but now illogical. It is of severe detriment to Palestinians.

The particular brand of impunity reserved for Israel has contributed to the fragmentation of Palestinian memory by isolating each murder from its political context.

The result is a false depiction, one that downplays state involvement in the murder, at times premeditated, of Palestinian individuals. In each case, Israel has justified its actions, even within a fabricated context and the manipulation of "death" as a "natural cause".

That the international community, through its silence, would tacitly approve of Israel's narrative that separates torture, neglect, and severe physical assault from the biological function of dying, is beyond pathetic and immoral. It is proof of a decayed structure in which only the perpetrators of violence are worthy of political assurances.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specialising in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine, colonial violence and the manipulation of international law. Follow her on Twitter: @walzerscent

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.