Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Omar Assad

Relatives grieve during the funeral for Omar Assad, a 78-year-old Palestinian-American man who died during a brutal stop and detention by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank town of Jiljilya on January 12, 2022. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Leaked Report Suggests Impunity for IDF Troops in Deadly Stop of Palestinian-American Elder

"This is a policy: Israel does not prosecute those responsible for harming Palestinians, thus making their lives miserable," said the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Brett Wilkins

Human rights advocates reacted angrily Sunday to a leaked report suggesting that no Israeli soldiers are likely to be charged in connection with the fatal detention of an elderly Palestinian-American man by occupation forces in a West Bank town earlier this month.

"Yet another example of why Israel cannot be trusted to investigate its own violations."

"This is a policy: Israel does not prosecute those responsible for harming Palestinians, thus making their lives miserable," the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem tweeted.

The Washington Post, citing a Hebrew-language report on the Israeli news site Ynet, said Sunday that a leaked summary of an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) probe into the death of Omar Assad confirmed that the 78-year-old former Milwaukee grocer was dragged from his vehicle, blindfolded, gagged, and handcuffed before falling silent while being detained at a construction site in Jiljilya on January 12.

The report summary said that IDF soldiers did not provide medical assistance to Assad, despite the presence of an army medic.

Assad suffered from heart problems. Witnesses said that by the time the Israeli troops left Jiljilya after detaining him for an hour, his face was ashen blue from a lack of oxygen. Islam Abu Zaher, a physician who tried to resuscitate Assad almost immediately after the troops left, said he died from an apparent heart attack.

The report suggested that none of the IDF soldiers involved "would be indicted, nor have they been suspended." 

An IDF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Amnon Shefler, said last week that troops apprehended Assad "after he resisted a check, a routine check, where he was questioned. And because of his lack of cooperation and his behavior, that is why they stopped him."

The IDF said Sunday that "it should be clarified that no decisions have yet been made regarding the investigation case."

B'Tselem tweeted, "Maybe this time, when it comes to its citizen, the United States for a change will do something in response to the crimes committed by its good friend."

Palestinian-American writer and activist Susan Abulhawa said Sunday that "Omar Assad was an American citizen. We need the Department of Justice to convene a grand jury to indict and extradite his killers, because no non-Jew can get justice in Israel."

The Post says the U.S. State Department has asked Israel to conduct a "thorough investigation" of Assad's death.

After Rachel Corrie, an American activist volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement, was crushed to death by an IDF armored bulldozer while defending Palestinian homes in occupied Gaza in 2003, Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador at the time, expressed his dissatisfaction with Israel's investigation of the incident. Attempts by Corrie's family to hold Israel accountable for the woman's death ultimately proved futile.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo