What is known at the moment is that a Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, died today shortly after a confrontation with IDF soldiers during a protest north of Ramallah. Abu Ein – imprisoned in Israel for his role in a terrorist bombing that killed two Israeli teens, but later released during a prisoner swap – collapsed and was evacuated for medical care, but died before reaching the hospital.
What’s not known is the cause of death, and there is increasing evidence (which we’ll show later in the post) that Abu Ein, who suffered from health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure, may have died of a heart attack.
However, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont naturally all but avoided evidence pointing to the strong possibility that Abu Ein died of natural causes, and instead primarily cited only those sources claiming he died as the result of trauma inflicted by an Israeli soldier.
Here are the relevant passages in Beaumont’s story, Palestinian minister dies after West Bank confrontation with Israeli soldiers:
A senior minister in the government of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has died following a violent confrontation with Israeli soldiers in a West Bank village near Ramallah.
Ziad Abu Ain, who deals with the issue of Israeli settlements and the separation wall, died as he was being rushed to hospital after reportedly being pushed and shoved by Israeli troops while planting olive trees in the village of Turmusiya near Ramallah.
A Reuters photographer covering the demonstration, who witnessed the incident, said that the minister died after being “shoved” by Israeli troops.
Chaim Levinson, a correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz who covers affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, posted a picture of the minister on Twitter which he said had been taken “after Abu Ain was hit by an Israeli soldiers”.
A Palestinian witness at the protest told Haaretz that he saw an officer from the border police hit Abu Ein with the butt of his gun and kick him.
Beaumont ignores important evidence contradicting such claims.
1.An IDF statement – released hours before his Guardian story was published – that the minister’s death was a result of a heart attack, and that there was no significant physical confrontation between soldiers and the Palestinian minister.
2. Reporters on the scene undermine claims Abu Ein was hit by an Israeli rifle butt. BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel quoted Roy Sharon, a journalist with Israel’s Channel Ten News, who was filming at the protest.
“I was standing there the whole protest,” Sharon told BuzzFeed News. “There were about 50 Palestinians and 20 foreign nationals taking part. The Israeli army let them go until a certain point, and then would not let them pass.”
Sharon said that several rounds of tear gas were fired at the crowd.
About 10 minutes later, after the tear gas, some people were standing near the IDF soldiers and were pushed back. They weren’t overly violent that I could see, they were pushing them back,” said Sharon. “Abu Ein was there among them, he was on the front line getting pushed back. Suddenly he was sitting on a rock, holding his chest.”
Sharon said that early reports that Abu Ein had been hit by a helmet or a tear gas canister were incorrect.
“I never saw that happen. There were lots of cameras there. They were pushing people back but I didn’t see anyone get hit by a helmet or with the canister,” said Sharon.
The Israeli journalist also tweeted: “If I’m not blind, then there was no rifle-butt strike, certainly not a significant or intentional one. I was standing next to him.”
3. Videos of the incident clearly seem to show that the PA minister was merely shoved, and there is no footage we’re aware of depicting a blow capable of killing him.
Here you can see Abu Ein after the incident clutching at his chest, consistent with claims that he may have died of a heart attack.
4. Nothing in these photos in the pro-Palestinian Arabic media indicate trauma.
Beaumont’s story should at least have noted that the Palestinian allegations that Abu Ein’ death – which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already characterized as a “barbaric assassination” – was the result of a blow by an Israeli soldier have been disputed by the IDF, Israeli witnesses, photos and videos of the confrontation.
Once again, it’s as if the Guardian journalist went out of his way to avoid reporting any evidence which would contradict the desired pro-Palestinian narrative.