Ziad Abu Ein's coffin in Ramallah
Ziad Abu Ein's coffin in RamallahReuters

The United Nations’ (UN) human rights chief on Friday said the circumstances of the death of senior Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein were "disturbing" and called for a timely and impartial investigation.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein welcomed an investigation launched by the Israeli military into the death of Abu Ein on Wednesday.

He said, according to the AFP news agency, that the probe needed to be "quick and utterly transparent if people are to have faith in its findings."

"Peaceful protest is a human right and security forces must exercise appropriate restraint when policing protests in accordance with international standards," he added.

"Because of the well-established illegal nature of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, such protests will inevitably continue,"  added Al Hussein.

Abu Ein died in Ramallah on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack during a "protest march" in Samaria. Reportedly he had high blood-pressure and diabetes.

Arab sources claim that Abu Ein died after being shoved by Israeli soldiers during a march to plant olives in an apparent land-grab attempt to create facts on the ground.

The Palestinian Authority’s leadership blamed Israel for "killing" the 55-year-old and threatened to end the security cooperation with Israel, while Israeli authorities said an investigation had been launched and called for calm.

An autopsy conducted by a trilateral Israel-PA-Jordan committee of pathologists confirmed Thursday that Abu Ein indeed died from a heart attack. 

Abu Ein was handed a life sentence in Israel in 1982 after being extradited from the United States in 1981 over the murder of two Israelis in Tiberias in 1979. Abu Ein planted the explosives which killed the two - Boaz Lahav and David Lankri.

But he never served his life sentence over the callous murders - he was released in the Ahmed Jibril prisoner swap deal in 1985, just three years later.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)