The brutal death of a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the Palestinian Authority’s embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, serves as a grim reminder of the interminable cycle of the PA’s collaboration with, and dependence upon, Israel.
Omar Nayef Zayed, originally from the West Bank city of Jenin, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1986 for the murder of an Israeli student in occupied East Jerusalem. Just four years into his sentence, he managed to flee after being transferred to a hospital following a 40-day hunger strike. In 1994, he settled in Bulgaria, where he was granted residency in 2012. The married father of three ran a vegetable shop in the country’s capital.
On Dec. 15, 2015, Israeli judicial authorities sought Zayed’s extradition through correspondence directed to the Bulgarian justice ministry, in which Zayed was deemed “a fugitive from justice.” Zayed’s home was raided two days later, prompting him to seek refuge at the PA’s embassy.
The details surrounding his death remain unclear. However, several incidents and statements shed light upon the high probability of collaboration and complicity between the PA, Israel and Bulgarian authorities.
Embassy staff discovered Zayed’s blood-soaked body in the embassy’s garden on the morning of Feb. 26. He died en route to a hospital, just hours after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov returned from meetings held in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where Zayed’s extradition was among the issues discussed.
According to Zayed’s wife, Rania, PA personnel at the embassy pressured him to leave the embassy, telling him, “Israel has all the keys.” She was quoted as saying that embassy staff told Zayed, “Although you’re in the embassy, we can’t protect you. They used to threaten him to leave the embassy.”
Statements regarding his death were also contradictory. Initially, both Zayed’s family and Palestinian staff at the embassy spoke of evidence of inflicted violence upon his body. However, The Associated Press reported that Belgian authorities “said they had yet to determine whether he fell, jumped or was pushed from the building.” Further, the AP reported, “PFLP initially said Zayed had been shot, but Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed al-Madbuh did not repeat those claims and Bulgarian officials insisted there were no gunshot wounds.” Read more.