10 Dec 2014

Palestinian minister dies after scuffle with Israeli troops

Palestinian authorities declare three days of national mourning after the death of minister Ziad Abu Ein shortly after a scuffle with Israeli troops during a protest in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas described his death as “a barbaric act, which we cannot be silent about or accept”.

Mr Abu Ein was part of a 100-strong group of foreign and Palestinian activists en route to plant olive trees and protest near an Israeli settlement when they were stopped at an improvised checkpoint.

Ziad Abu Ein argues with Israeli troops (Getty)

A group of around 15 Israeli troops fired tear gas and began scuffling with them, according to eyewitnesses. During the incident Mr Abu Ein was pushed and shoved, and struck by a hand to the neck, according to a Reuters photographer at the scene.

Ziad Abu Ein scuffles with Israeli troops shortly before his death (Reuters)

Mr Abu Ein was rushed by ambulance from the scene to hospital in Ramallah, but died on the way. Shops in the city closed in protest at his death and youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers guarding a Jewish settlement outside the city.

Ziad Abu Ein is carried away by protesters after collapsing

Israeli army said it was investigating the incident.

Mr Abu Ein, who was in his 50s, headed the government-run protest organisation called the committee to resist Settlements and the wall, which was behind today’s tree planting action.