Omar Nayef Zayed, convicted in Israel of murdering student Eliyahu Amadi in 1986, escape prison & fled to Bulgaria, was found gravely wounded in the garden of the Palestinian embassy in Sofia, before dying of his wounds.
By Elior Levy, Itamar Eichner
Wanted terrorist Omar Nayef Zayed was found dead at the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria, local media reported on Friday morning.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Zayed, 51, was convicted along with two others of the murder of yeshiva student Eliyahu Amadi at Jerusalem’s Old City in 1986, when he was 22 years old.
According to Palestinian sources, after receiving Israel’s extradition request for Zayed, Bulgarian authorities sought to arrest him for 72 hours in order to deliberate on the request, but he escaped to the embassy before they could get to him.
Bulgarian authorities then set Zayed an ultimatum to force him out of the embassy, but he refused. Meanwhile, Israel was holding a quiet dialogue with Sofia in an effort to bring the affair to an end.
Palestinian Ambassador to Bulgaria Ahmad Madbough set Zayed an ultimatum of his own, giving him 24 hours to turn himself in to Bulgarian authorities – to no avail.
His brother, Hamza, said Zayed would not turn himself in or leave the embassy building because he was tortured and beaten in Israeli prison and was put in isolation for 60 days.
Bulgarian news websites reported that at 7:35am Friday, emergency services received a call to the embassy for a man seeking urgent medical treatment after a “violent incident.” Zayed, who was found at the embassy’s outside garden with critical injuries to his upper body, was rushed to a local hospital in Sofia, where was declared dead.
The Palestinian deputy foreign minister, Tayseer Jaradat, said Zayed was not killed from the shooting in his direction. One of the reports in Bulgarian media claimed Zayed was dropped to his death. Police investigators and forensics arrived at the scene, with the permission of the Palestinian ambassador.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned “in the strongest terms this heinous crime,” and instructed a commission of inquiry to go to Bulgaria to uncover the circumstances of what happened.
While Abbas avoided pointing the finger at Israel, PFLP and the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club and former minister Issa Karaka, did blame Israel for Zayed’s death.
It’s safe to assume, however, that the Palestinian claim the Mossad is behind Zayed’s death is baseless. Israel would not dare get entangled with an assassination after filing an official request for his extradition, and certainly not while Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is in Israel on a work trip, during which he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Sources involved in the affair said “there is no connection to Israel.” They claimed it was more likely that Zayed angered Palestinian or local authorities.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in response: “Israel did ask for the extradition of Zayed, who is a fugitive, but we heard the news of his murder in the media.”
Recently, Jenin governor Ibrahim Ramadan sent a letter to the Palestinian ambassador in Bulgaria, asking him to provide Zayed with any help he needs because of what he called pressure from Israel on the Bulgarian government to force the embassy to turn him in to local authorities.
PFLP members have also recently demanded members of the Eurpean Union’s parliament to provide Zayed with protection.
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The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine online site calls Zayed’s death an “assassination” saying further:
“We note the full responsibility of the Palestinian Authority at the highest levels for failing to protect Comrade Nayef Zayed from assassination, up to and including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and Ambassador Ahmad al-Madbouh.”