World News

Israeli military investigating Palestinian's death in West Bank confrontation

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian man died after a confrontation with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority condemned as a “cold-blooded execution”.

The Israeli military said the man had attempted to attack troops and that it was investigating the incident.

In security camera footage posted on social media and carried by Israeli news sites, soldiers could be seen kicking and striking a man, identified by Palestinian officials as Yassin Omar Serda, after detaining him in the town of Jericho.

In a statement, the military said the man was armed with an iron rod and ran toward the soldiers in an attempt to strike them. The troops, it said, were on a raid to arrest “suspects” in the town.

“In response to the immediate threat, the troops fired toward the assailant and confronted him from close range and were able to stop him,” the military said.

“A knife was also found in his possession. Troops evacuated him to a hospital to receive medical treatment. His death was later announced. The incident is being reviewed.”

The Palestinian Information Ministry said about 20 soldiers had administered a “heavy beating” to Serda, especially on his stomach and back.

“The Information Ministry views (his) martyrdom ... shortly after his arrest a cold-blooded execution,” it said.

Serda’s family said it was seeking to have an autopsy performed.

Israeli troops frequently mount raids in the West Bank to detain suspected militants. Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

An Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, was sentenced last February to 18 months imprisonment for killing a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank town of Hebron in 2015. He was convicted of manslaughter, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

His trial was one of the most divisive in Israeli history. Supporters argued he was justified in shooting a Palestinian whom they said had intended to kill Israelis. The military said he violated standing orders and that his conduct was unbecoming of an Israeli soldier.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Additional reporting by Ori Lewis, Mustafa Abu Ganayeh and Ali Sawafta; Editing by Janet Lawrence