Israeli and Palestinian officials have issued conflicting reports Thursday over the autopsy of Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein, who died during a Palestinian protest riot in Turmas Ayya in Samaria Wednesday.
Prior to the autopsy, Palestinian sources claimed Israeli forces sprayed tear gas and beat Abu Ein with the butts of their rifles and their helmets, causing his death. Footage from the riot suggests otherwise.
Israel, for its part, has maintained that Abu Ein suffered a fatal heart attack. The Israeli government has, however, agreed to participate in a joint investigation into the minister's death.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Palestinian official, told Reuters early Thursday that the Jordanian and Palestinian doctors who participated in the autopsy of the body said Abu Ein, 55, died from being struck, inhaling tear gas and not receiving prompt medical attention.
An Israeli medical source familiar with the autopsy results told Reuters that the minister died from a heart attack and had a pre-existing heart condition. He did admit that possible force could have had an impact.
The detail of a pre-existing heart condition follows similar reports published by Haaretz Wednesday that Abu Ein suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes.
"His death was caused by a coronary occlusion, brought on by stress. The stress may have been brought on by him being grabbed by the neck," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Preliminary autopsy reports from the Abu Dis Forensics Institute released late Thursday morning reveal that Abu Ein's death was "caused by a blockage of the coronary artery due to hemorrhaging underneath a layer of atherosclerotic plaque."
"The deceased suffered from ischemic heart disease; blood vessels in his heart were found to be over 80% blocked by plaque. Old scars indicating that he suffered from previous myocardial infarctions were also found," the report continued.
"The poor condition of the deceased's heart caused him to be more sensitive to stress."
Despite these preliminary reports of the autopsy, which was carried out by representatives from the Palestinian forensics institute and doctors from Jordan in addition to Israeli medical examiners, the Palestinians on Thursday accused Israel of "killing" Ziad Abu Ein.
"After hearing the results of the post-mortem, the Palestinian government holds Israel fully responsible for the killing of Ziad Abu Ein," government spokesman Ihab Bseiso told reporters.