02:12 - Source: CNN
Official dead from 'vomiting, asphyxia'

Story highlights

An autopsy report released by Israel says Ziyad Abu Ein died from a blocked artery

A Palestinian doctor says he choked on vomit brought on by tear gas inhalation

A Palestinian official says Abu Ein was taking part in nonviolent protests

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to investigate

Jerusalem CNN  — 

This much is certain: Ziyad Abu Ein, a senior Palestinian Authority official, died after a confrontation with Israeli troops.

But a day after his death, the two sides continued to offer contrasting accounts of what killed him.

Palestinians say that autopsy results show that Abu Ein died from a harsh blow to his diaphragm and lungs – that excessive use of force, in conjunction with the inhalation of tear gas, were contributing factors.

Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency on Thursday that doctors from Palestinian territories, Jordan and Israel participated in the autopsy. He said that while Israeli doctors admitted the results, they did not sign the medical report.

On the other hand, a preliminary autopsy report issued by the Israeli government said Abu Ein’s death was caused by a blockage of the coronary artery because of hemorrhaging. Stress could have caused the bleeding, the report said, suggesting the poor condition of Abu Ein’s heart caused him to be more sensitive to stress.

CNN spoke to Dr. Ahmed Bitawi, at the Ramallah medical complex, who ruled out “99.99%” that Abu Ein’s death was brought on by a heart attack.

Bitawi, the director general of the hospital, said the cause of death was asphyxiation; that Abu Ein choked to death on his own vomit brought on by gas inhalation.

Clashes with soldiers

Ziyad Abu Ein died after clashes with Israeli soldiers midday Wednesday in the Palestinian village of Turmusaya, which is northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah, longtime chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a statement. Abu Ein – a minister in Abbas’ Fatah party and head of the Committee to Resist the Wall and Settlements – was there participating in nonviolent demonstrations to mark international Human Rights Day, according to Erakat’s statement.

He was a minister in the Fatah party and head of the Committee to Resist the Wall and Settlements, and he was participating in nonviolent demonstrations to mark international Human Rights Day, longtime chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a statement.

Pictures from various news agencies depict an Israeli soldier with his hands to Abu Ein’s neck, followed by another showing him on the ground. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, meanwhile, reported that the Palestinian official lost consciousness after he inhaled tear gas and an Israeli soldier hit him in the chest.

“The Israeli soldiers called Abu Ein by name and seemed to be focused on him,” witness Kamal Abu Safaka told CNN. “There was a lot of pushing, kicking and punching by the soldiers. … When Abu Ein tried to intercede, they hit him on the chest with a rifle butt and grabbed him by the throat and pushed him back and then threw a large amount of tear gas and stun grenades.”

Anger and mourning

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message – via his special envoy Yitzhak Molcho – to Palestinian Authority officials telling them that Israel will investigate the death, according to a government statement.

Declaring three days of mourning, Abbas slammed Abu Ein’s death as an “intolerable barbaric act,” according to WAFA.

“What happened is a crime by all means, we cannot sit idle and silent (after) this crime,” he said later on Palestinian television. “For that, this leadership is meeting now to decide what it wants, and I say honestly all options are open for discussion and for implementation. … We don’t have any other solutions.”

On Thursday, thousands of Palestinian mourners marched in Abu Ein’s funeral procession as he was taken from the presidential compound to a cemetery.