Palestinian Cabinet Member Ziad Abu Ain Dead After Israeli Soldier Altercation

A member of the Palestinian Cabinet has been killed during a West Bank protest, where witnesses said Israeli troops fired tear gas at him and dozens of other marchers.

Those at the scene reported Ziad Abu Ain, 55, was struck by an Israeli soldier. Footage from Sky News Arabic appeared to show an Israeli soldier grabbing Abu Ain's throat.

"The Israel government bears full responsibility for the killing of Minster Abu Ain and the systematic crimes committed against the Palestinian people," said Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian peace negotiator and a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "This new assassination will have severe consequences."

Footage from Sky News Arabic appeared to show one soldier grabbing Abu Ain's throat

The events Wednesday began with a march by several dozen Palestinians who headed to agricultural land near the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, which they say was to plant olive tree saplings. The land is close to an Israeli settlement and mostly off limits to the village's farmers.

Kamal Abu Sassaka, an assistant to Abu Ain, who said he was by the minister's side, said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the Palestinians

Ziad Abu Ein

Abu Ain claimed to an Israeli officer that this was a peaceful protest, but was told the group could not proceed, according to Abu Sassaka, who said pushing and shoving began between marchers and soldiers. He also claimed one soldier hit Abu Ain in the chest with his rifle butt and that soldiers fired tear gas toward the legs of the Palestinians.

News channel Al-Hadath showed footage of Abu Ain, pale faced, crumpling to the ground after the clash, holding his chest.

Abu Sassaka said Abu Ain was given first aid by a soldier before being taken to the village clinic and from there by ambulance to Ramallah Hospital. Abu Ain died en route to the hospital, Abu Sassaka said.

Abu Ain headed a Palestinian Authority department dealing with Israeli settlements and the Israeli separation barrier.

A Palestinian health official said an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death.