Another Israeli soldier killed near a settlement in the occupied West Bank

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RIYADH: The family of an elderly Palestinian-American man who died after being detained by Israeli soldiers has denied agreeing to a compensation deal with the Israeli Defense Ministry.

The family’s comments came after the ministry released a statement saying it had reached an agreement with relatives of Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, 78.

According to the ministry, the family’s lawsuit against the state in an Israeli court was settled with a payment of NIS 500,000 ($140,000) “in light of the unique circumstances of this unfortunate event.”

Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported that in exchange, the family agreed to withdraw their legal claims.

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As’ad’s brother, Nawaf, said the family had not been contacted by the Ministry of Defense regarding a monetary deal and that they would not agree to one if it meant dropping the case.

“We haven’t agreed anything regarding my brother and the case. We don’t want money, we want justice,” he said by phone from Jiljilya, the family’s village in the occupied West Bank.

“They have to explain why a group of soldiers who are supposed to be trained to look after people and to protect people killed a frail old man.”

As’ad, a retired grocer, died in January after being stopped at a checkpoint on his way home to Jiljilya and “resisting a check”, according to an IDF statement. He was then handcuffed, gagged and blindfolded for 20 minutes to an hour.

In interviews, several witnesses detained by the unit at the same time said that As’ad had clearly lost consciousness and stopped breathing, but the soldiers left without checking on his well-being, despite the fact that a doctor soldier was nearby.

An autopsy commissioned by the Palestinian Justice Ministry revealed that As’ad suffered from several pre-existing heart conditions and died of “sudden stress-induced cardiac arrest resulting from outside violence”.

The high-profile case has drawn international attention and calls from US lawmakers for a full investigation.

The IDF later described the incident as “a serious and unfortunate event resulting from moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers”.

One officer involved has been reprimanded and two others reassigned to non-command roles, he added.

Criminal prosecutions of Israeli soldiers who injure Palestinians are extremely rare.

The IDF says it opens initial operational investigations into all cases in the West Bank in which a Palestinian is killed, unless the death occurred in a combat environment.

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