Dispute over death at demonstration

 

Jerusalem

An official statement by the Israeli military denying that Jawaher Abu Rahma, a resident of the West Bank village of Bil'in, died from tear gas has been challenged by the Palestinian Authority.

Ms Abu Rahma, 36, was taken to hospital after collapsing as a result of what protest organisers and witnesses have said was the heavy use of tear gas by troops during clashes with youths, who had been demonstrating against the separation barrier in Bil'in.

But Brigadier Nitzan Alon, commander of the military's West Bank division, said that her death was the result of "aspects" of medical treatment she had received. His statement said that "remains of tear gas may have reached her but she did not die from this, rather as a result of complications related to other diseases". It added that there was "no difference between our understanding of the events and that of the Palestinian Authority's officials."

This was contradicted by Ghassan Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian cabinet, who said he had checked with all relevant PA departments. "There is only one message conveyed by them and this is that the case was a typical one of tear gas inhalation." Although she had previously suffered from an inner-ear disorder, a CT scan had shown no abnormalities, and her family said her health had been normal before the incident.

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