Omar Zayed and his wife at their grocery shop in Bulgaria.

Omar Zayed found dead inside Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria

PNN/Ramallah

Omar Zayed’s family on Friday morning confirmed the news about his assassination inside the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria, where he took refuge.

On Tuesday, Bulgarian authorities confirmed that the Israeli government had officially requested Omar’s extradition. The request was submitted by the Israeli judicial authorities to the Bulgarian Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassation through the justice ministry.

According to the Israeli media, Israel fulfilled all requirements on submitting an official request for extradition as stipulated by the European Convention on Extradition and has assured the Bulgarian authorities that in case Zayed was extradited, he was not going to be the subject of violence, torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

After receiving the Israeli request, the Bulgarian authorities went to Omar’s house and conducted a complete search.

“We were really scared, we were still sleeping [when they came]. They checked everywhere in all the wardrobes and under the beds, searched my father’s clothes for documents. They questioned us and then left with my older brother,” said Omar’s 17-year-old daughter Diana.

She said the police officers who came searching for her father did not present a search warrant or any other documents. They released her brother after an hour of questioning at the police station.

Omar, who was a well-known escaped Palestinian political prisoner, took refuge in the Palestinian Authority’s embassy in Bulgaria, after these demands by the Israeli government requesting his extradition.

On Friday morning, February 26, he was found dead inside the Embassy. Until this moment, details of the cause of his death remain unknown.

Omar’s brother, Ahmad Zayed, in an interview for the al-Quds news channel, revealed that on Thursday night he spoke with his brother on the phone and everything seemed normal, despite the circumstances. However, at dawn this Friday he received a call from the PA Embassy in Bulgaria telling him of his brother death.

Palestinian Prisoners Minister, Issa Qaraque, blamed the Israeli intelligence for Omar’s death. Furthermore, in a released statement this Friday morning, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, strongly condemned Omar’s assassination and demanded an immediate investigation to discover what really happened to him.

Omar escaped from Israeli detention 25 years ago and was living in Bulgaria for more than two decades.

He was born in Jenin and was arrested in Jerusalem in 1986. In that time, he was a member of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and part of the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation.

After a trial in an Israeli military court, he was convicted of involvement in the killing of an Israeli settler and given a life sentence.

In 1990, he launched a hunger strike which lasted 40 days. While receiving treatment in a Bethlehem hospital, he escaped from the hospital and fled Palestine.

Omar entered Bulgaria in 1994 where he got married and had three children. In 2012, he was granted with a permission to reside there.