SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged inside his vehicle on Monday, an incident Israeli police described as a suicide but which the driver’s family said they believed was an attack.
The driver, 32-year-old Youssef al-Ramouni, was found dead at the start of the route he was supposed to have driven late on Sunday, in an area of Jerusalem close to Jewish settlements and Palestinian neighbourhoods.
Israeli police said the evidence suggested al-Ramouni had committed suicide, but rumours quickly spread in the Palestinian media that he had been killed by Jewish assailants, fuelling tension and violence in the divided city.
“The bus driver committed suicide, there is no other indication other than it was a suicide case,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
However, al-Ramouni’s brother, Louy, told Reuters there was no way his brother, the father of two young children, would have killed himself and said there were marks on his body that suggested he had been killed.
“I saw the body last night and I saw bruises and marks that he was beaten up,” he said.
“There were marks of fingers on the body and also on his back there was a bruise as if he was hit by a hard object. … Youssef cannot commit suicide, it is not possible, he is leading a good and happy life with his wife and his family,” he added.
Some Palestinian media outlets also released photos of al-Ramouni’s body showing signs of bruises and cuts in the back, abdomen and face, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.
Israeli police said an autopsy would be carried out to determine the cause of death. Al-Ramouni’s family has requested that a Palestinian pathologist be present, but it was not clear if that would be allowed.
Clashes broke out in several neighborhoods of East Jerusalem overnight after a Palestinian driver was found hanged late Sunday in an Israeli bus in West Jerusalem, eyewitnesses said.
Israeli security forces used stun grenade and tear gas to disperse protesters who threw stones and petrol bombs at the Israeli troops in Al-Tur, Ras al-Amud and Abu Dis neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, witnesses told Anadolu Agency.
The protesters were angered by the reports saying that the Israeli police allegedly hinted the death of the Palestinian driver, identified as Hassan al-Ramouni, was suicide.
There were no immediate reports of injuries caused by the clashes.
The death comes at a time of heightened tension across Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, where there have been almost daily clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in the predominantly Arab, eastern side of the city.
Tension has already been running high since Israeli authorities sealed access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem after the shooting of an extremist Jewish rabbi in the city before reopening it hours later.
The unrest mounted further after Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man suspected of shooting the rabbi in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.
Several Israeli parliamentarians have also entered the mosque complex in recent days, drawing the ire of Muslim worshippers and official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.
Groups of Jewish settlers, too, have forced their way into the site, prompting clashes between Muslim worshippers and Israeli forces.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a popular uprising against Israel’s decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.