TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel sent hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank after a Palestinian minister died following a confrontation with an Israeli policeman there. Meanwhile, differing accounts over the cause of Ziad Abu Ein's death looked set to worsen already inflamed tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
"There is reinforcement of IDF troops in the Territories," an Israel Defense Forces spokesman told NBC News. "Two additional battalions were added in order to prevent any escalation of the situation." Battalions can include up to 600 soldiers.
Abu Ein, 55, died Wednesday after a confrontation with Israeli forces near the Palestinian village of Turmus Aya and the Jewish settlement of Adei Ad. His funeral was being held on Thursday, a day after an autopsy conducted by Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli pathologists. According to Israel's Health Ministry, the autopsy showed Abu Ein died after an arterial blockage of the coronary artery due to arterial bleeding that could have been caused by stress. Palestinian pathologist Saber Aloul, meanwhile, told The Associated Press the "cause of death was a blow, and not natural causes."
"Definitely there is a stressful event that led to a myocardial infraction so there is no major differences in our versions," said Dr. Chen Kugel, Head of the Israeli National Institute for Forensic Medicine and who attended the autopsy. "There is no dispute between us and the Palestinians and Jordanian colleagues about the cause of death."
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has blamed Israeli soldiers for the death. "The autopsy report said that he had an explosion in the major artery after being pushed, suffocated and thrown to the ground," he said. "So, of course, he could have been killed by an explosion in his main artery, but what caused this? What caused this was Israeli soldiers suffocating and beating up Ziad Abu Ein. They are fully responsible."
Reuters contributed to this report.