The Appaling Case of Palestinian-American Omar Asaad

Killers walk free after farcical internal ‘investigation’


June 17, 2023

Yesterday, the Israeli military announced it was closing the case over the death of Omar Asaad, the Palestinian-American octogenarian killed under brutal circumstances in January 2022. The soldiers involved in detaining Asaad in the Palestinian town of Jiljilya had dragged him from his vehicle, zip-tied his wrists, blindfolded him, gagged him, and left him unconscious on the cold ground overnight. Asaad was found dead the next day. According to the Israeli army’s chief legal body, the soldiers involved in Asaad’s murder would not face any charges after an internal Israeli investigation found no evidence that the cardiac arrest Mr. Asaad suffered was due to his detainment by the soldiers. 

Mr. Asaad was 80 years old and the first high-profile case of a Palestinian-American killed by Israel in 2022. Aljazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was the second, killed in May of that year as well. 

When asked about whether the US government was notified by Israel about the closing of this case, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responded with “I’ll take that one back and find out if we have.”  Later, the State Department said they were speaking ‘directly’ with the Israelis on the matter of Asaad’s case. 

That’s all we get as far as accountability for US citizens murdered by Israel in cold blood. Whether neglect over the case of Omar Asaad or the overt cover-up of the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh, the US government continues to enable Israel’s war crimes by establishing a culture of impunity that implies carte blanche approval. Even when it is clear the act Israel is committing constitutes a war crime–as in the case of Asaad and Abu Akleh–the US government takes no meaningful steps to hold Israel accountable and prevents others from doing so. 

Furthermore, US reliance on Israel’s internal investigations and military law enforcement to take appropriate measures to hold its soldiers accountable is completely farcical. As Israeli rights group Yesh Den reports, from 2017 to 2021 hundreds of complaints against Israeli soldiers were filed and less than 1 percent were prosecuted. Of those convicted of harming Palestinians, the military courts handed extremely lenient sentences, continuing the unfettered impunity. Even after Israel admits to ‘mistakenly’ killing Palestinians as in the case of Shireen Abu Akleh earlier this year and 2-year-old Mohammed al-Tamimi this week, the US government takes no meaningful action. 

It has become abundantly clear that there are two separate classes of citizens in America. By not offering Palestinian Americans protection from Israel’s crimes, the US government is sending a strong message that Palestinian Americans are not deserving of the same rights as all Americans. Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights will continue unabated unless the US takes seriously the implications of what it means that US citizens are killed without accountability abroad.

We must honor the memory of every Palestinian lost to Israel’s brutal violence by continuing to demand accountability and an end to Israel’s impunity. 

In solidarity,

American Muslims for Palestine

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