A Palestinian minister is dead after an altercation with Israeli soldiers during protests in the West Bank, the Associated Press reported.
There are conflicting reports as to what killed 55-year-old Ziad Abu Ein, a prominent member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' cabinet, on Wednesday after he and other activists went to the village of Turmus Aya to plant olive trees in protest of land confiscations by Israel.
The demonstrators were met by Israeli soldiers who threw stun grenades and released tear gas on the activists, including Ein, witnesses told the AP. Soldiers also pushed and struck the minister, with one solider striking him in the chest with the butt of his rifle, witnesses said.
Ein sank to the ground and began clutching his chest, Kama Abu Sassaka, the minister's assistant who was at the clashes, told the AP. First aid was administered and Ein was transported to Ramallah Hospital in an ambulance but he died on the way.
Israel's ministry is investigating the events leading up to Ein's death. An autopsy is to be performed at a Palestinian forensics center, The New York Times reported.
The Palestinian president described what happened to Ein as a "barbaric act" and called for three days of mourning.
"We will take the necessary measures after the results of the investigation into the martyrdom of the freedom fighter Abu Ein are known," Abbas said according to The NY Times.
There are rumors that Ein's health played a role in his death. He reportedly had high blood pressure and diabetes.
Ein, a member of the president's Fatah party, was previously sentenced to death by an Israeli court for a 1979 bombing that killed two Israelis, according to the BBC. His sentence was changed to life in prison and he was released in 1985 as part of a prisoner swap.