Ziad Abu Ein: The first Palestinian to be extradited from the US to Israel, the cause of whose death has been disputed

 

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The Independent Online

Ziad Abu Ein was a senior Palestinian official who in September was appointed head of the Commission Against the Separation Wall and Settlements, which monitors Israeli activities near the security barrier and the building of settlements in the West Bank, as well as organising "popular resistance".

Before taking up his new post he served for nine years as deputy minister for prisoners' affairs. He was also a senior member of Fatah and a member of the Revolutionary Council.

He was first imprisoned by the Israelis when he was 18, and he spent several years in jail for his role in a 1979 attack in Tiberias. A group of young people were celebrating the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba'omer when a bomb exploded, killing two 16-year-olds and injuring 36 others.

After the attack he fled to the US, and in 1981 became the first Palestinian to be extradited from the US to Israel. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but released in the 1985 Jibril prisoner exchange deal. A few months later he was rearrested on suspicion of plotting to hijack a bus, and during the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, which began in 2000, he was held in detention.

Abu Ein had set out with activists to plant olive trees near the village of Turmus Aiya, north of Ramallah. There was a confrontation with Israeli soldiers and he collapsed and died. A joint autopsy was carried out by Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli doctors. They agreed that death was due to a blockage of the coronary artery caused by haemorrhaging, but disagreed over bruising; the Palestinian and Jordanians believed it was the result of violence while the Israelis thought it to be the result of efforts to resuscitate him.

SHANNON BAXTER

Ziad Abu Ein, politician: born 1959; died 10 December 2014.

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