Washington says it is questioning Israel over the death of a detained Palestinian-American

JERUSALEM (AP) — The United States said Wednesday it was seeking more information about the closure of an Israeli military investigation into the death of a 78-year-old Palestinian-American who was detained, gagged and left unconscious shortly before being pronounced dead.

Israel announced on Tuesday that it would not bring criminal charges against soldiers involved in the detention of Palestinian-American Omar Assad from an impromptu checkpoint in the occupied West Bank last year.

The army admitted that the actions of the soldiers – who left Assad lying unresponsive on the ground without offering medical help or checking if he was alive – showed a lack of moral judgement. But he said the soldiers would only face internal disciplinary action because he could not determine that their misconduct directly caused Assad’s death.

Assad’s death sparked outrage, highlighting the dangers facing Palestinians in the West Bank. Palestinians say they suffer systematic mistreatment under military occupation.

In the United States, where Assad spent four decades and where his family still lives, the State Department said it was discussing “this disturbing incident with the Israeli government”.

“We are currently seeking more information,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters in Washington. “We will speak to them directly.

Miller said the US government had expected Israel to carry out “thorough criminal investigation and full accountability”.

Human rights groups have long argued that Israel rarely holds soldiers responsible for the deaths of Palestinians, with Israeli military investigations often reflecting a pattern of impunity.

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