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Israeli army unit linked to American’s death exits West Bank


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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said on Wednesday that it was temporarily removing a unit of radical Orthodox soldiers from the occupied West Bank after a 78-year-old Palestinian-American man died after being attacked by soldiers. arrested earlier this year.

The military said the “Netzah Yehuda” Battalion will be moved to the Golan Heights, along Israel’s northern front with Syria, later this year.

The announcement made no mention of the death of Omar Assad, who died after being detained by Israeli soldiers, handcuffed and blindfolded.

Instead, it said, the decision “was made out of a desire to diversify their operational deployments across multiple sectors, in addition to accumulating more operational experience”. It said the unit will return to the West Coast late next year.

Netzah Yehuda, or “Judea Forever,” is a special unit for ultra-Orthodox Jewish soldiers. This unit was created to encourage religious men, who are normally exempt from special military service, to join the army. But its members have been implicated in abuse cases in the past.

Last January, troops from Netzah Yehuda detained Asaad at a checkpoint, bound his hands and blindfolded him. The army then untied his hands and left him face down in an abandoned building.

Mr Assad, who had lived in the US for four decades, was pronounced dead in hospital after other Palestinians found him unconscious. It is unclear exactly when he died. One Autopsies performed by Palestinian doctors found Asaad with underlying health conditions, but also found bruises on his head, red marks on his wrists from being tied, and bleeding in his eyelids from being tightly blindfolded.

After being strongly protested by the US government, the Israeli military said the incident “is a serious and regrettable event, stemming from the moral failure and wrong decisions of the soldiers”. . It said one officer was reprimanded and two other officers were reassigned to a non-commander role, over the incident.

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