Family of deceased Palestinian-American reject settlement offer

JERUSALEM — The family of a Palestinian-American who died earlier this year after being detained by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank said Wednesday they would reject Israel’s settlement offer.

Israel’s Defense Ministry said earlier this week it had agreed to pay the family of Omar Assad, 78, who died handcuffed and blindfolded while in the custody of Israeli soldiers – a move rare to close a case that drew strong condemnation from Washington. .

Assad was born in the Palestinian town of Jiljilya but spent around 40 years in the United States. He became a US citizen before returning to his hometown in 2009 to retire with his wife.

Under the deal, Assad’s family would receive NIS 500,000, or about $141,000, to drop their lawsuit against the state, the ministry said.

Nawaf Assad, Omar’s brother who splits his time between Virginia and Illinois, said he had instructed their family lawyer to reject Israel’s proposal.

“We are not interested in dropping the case for any reason,” Assad told The Associated Press. “No money can replace my brother for his children, for his grandchildren who still call him…for his wife who thinks he’s home every time his doorbell rings.”

Questions remain about what happened to Assad after he was arrested by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army said the soldiers later untied his hands and left him face down in an abandoned building.

Assad was pronounced dead in a hospital after other Palestinians who had been detained found him unconscious. A Palestinian autopsy showed he died of a heart attack from injuries sustained while in custody.

The Israeli military reprimanded a senior officer and removed two others from leadership positions after its own investigation concluded that Assad’s death was the result of “moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the military.” soldiers”. It was a rare acknowledgment of error from an army that has long been criticized for rarely holding its soldiers accountable.

Assad’s family said they would reject Israel’s entrenchment so they could continue to push the United States to conduct its own independent investigation. Several members of Congress have also called for a US investigation.

“If we make the deal, the US government will close (the case),” Assad, his brother, said. “We want justice.”

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