A 78-year-old Palestinian-American man died after being arrested by Israeli soldiers earlier this year, prompting the Israeli military to announce on Wednesday that it is temporarily removing a unit of ultra-Orthodox soldiers from the West Bank.
By the end of the year, according to the army, the “Netzah Yehuda” Battalion will be relocated to the Golan Heights, along Israel’s northern border with Syria.
Omar Assad, who passed away after being arrested, shackled, and blindfolded by Israeli soldiers, received no mention in the statement.
The unit would return to the West Bank at the end of the year, adding that the move “was decided out of a desire to diversify their operational deployment in numerous regions, as well as amassing more operational experience.”
A specialized unit for ultra-Orthodox Jewish soldiers is called Netzah Yehuda, or “Judea Forever.”
The unit was established to entice religious persons, who frequently enjoy special exemptions from the conscription requirement, to enlist in the military. But some of its members have been charged with abuse in the past.
Asaad was taken into custody by Netzah Yehuda soldiers in January of last year and had his hands and eyes covered.
Then, soldiers released his hand chains and dumped him in an empty structure, face down.
After other Palestinians discovered Assad unresponsive, who had spent the previous 40 years living in the United States, he was confirmed dead at a hospital.
It wasn’t apparent when he passed away exactly.
According to a Palestinian doctor’s autopsy, Asaad had underlying medical issues, which also revealed bruising on his skull, redness from being shackled, and blood from being firmly blinded in his eyelids.
The Israeli military responded to a protest from the American government by stating that the incident “was a grave and unfortunate event, resulting from moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers.”
It added that one officer was reprimanded, and two other officers were reassigned to non-commanding roles due to the incident.