Palestinian minister killed in IDF settlement confrontation

Palestinian minister killed in IDF settlement confrontation

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said he will look into the death of a Palestinian minister who died following an altercation with Israeli troops during a protest in the West Bank.

Abu Ain collapses shortly after an Israeli soldier grabbed him by the throat

Ziad Abu Ain, a senior Fatah politician, collapsed and was pronounced dead shortly after the incident near the village of Turmus Aya.

He had been among 100 Palestinians carrying olive tree saplings during a protest against land confiscations when Israeli troops fired tear gas at them and later beat some of the participants with rifle butts.

Video footage later appeared to show Israeli security personnel grappling with protesters, with one grabbing Abu Ain by the throat.

The Israeli military say it is investigating, but international condemnation was swift.

Eyewitness Salah Hawajeh said Abu Ain, 55, marched toward the soldiers ahead of everyone else, until he was stopped by a soldier. He said the soldier then head-butted Abu Ain and hit him in the chest with his rifle butt. Abu Ain then dropped to the ground and was evacuated by ambulance.

He headed a Palestinian Authority department dealing with Israeli settlements and the separation barrier, and had the rank of cabinet member. Previously, he served as deputy minister for prisoner affairs.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas reacted with fury, describing the attack as “a barbaric act, which we cannot be silent about or accept”. He announced three days of national mourning and said he would take “necessary steps” after an investigation.

The death was also condemned by the Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, who said that “Israel will pay” for the “murder” of Abu Ein. Meanwhile Hamas called on Abbas to end its security co-operation with Israel.

Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and senior aide to Abbas, said: “The Israeli government bears full responsibility for the killing of Minster Abu Ain and the systematic crimes committed against the Palestinian people. This new assassination will have severe consequences.”

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