A body of a 32-year-old Palestinian bus driver was found hanging inside a vehicle in a bus depot in the West Jerusalem area of Har Hatzofim late Sunday, triggering overnight clashes in East Jerusalem, media reports said Monday. The incident was reportedly described as a suicide by Israeli police but the family of the deceased claimed it was an attack.
The driver was reportedly identified as Youssef al-Ramouni, a resident of East Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighborhood, Haaretz reported, citing Palestinian media. Local newspaper Al-Quds reported that the driver was “lynched” by six Jewish men. Al-Ramouni’s family also claimed that the driver's body showed signs of violence, Haaretz reported. Authorities will reportedly inspect surveillance camera footage at the bus depot to help determine the cause of death.
“However, in coordination and cooperation with the family, the body will be examined at the Forensic Institute,” police said in a statement, according to The Times of Israel. “Contrary to reports in the foreign press, there were no signs of violence found on the body.”
The family also reportedly claimed that al-Ramouni had no reason to commit a suicide. "I saw the body last night and I saw bruises and marks that he was beaten up," al-Ramouni's brother, Louy, told Reuters.
"There were marks of fingers on the body and also on his back there was a bruise as if he was hit by a hard object. ... Youssef cannot commit suicide, it is not possible, he is leading a good and happy life with his wife and his family," Louy reportedly said.
Israeli police said that an autopsy would be conducted before reaching a conclusion, while al-Ramouni’s family urged that a Palestinian pathologist be present at the time, Reuters reported. However, it was not clear if the family’s request would be granted by the authorities.
Tensions between Israeli authorities and Palestinians have escalated in the region after a dispute over access to the Al-Aqsa and Temple Mount compound.