THE LEVANT – A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle in west Jerusalem overnight, in what Israeli police said was an apparent suicide but a colleague said looked like murder.
The incident happened late on Sunday, with a supervisor finding his body at a bus depot in Har Hotzvim, an industrial zone in north Jerusalem, police said in a statement released early Monday.
Family members identified him as Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni from Al-Tur on the Mount of Olives in annexed east Jerusalem. They categorically ruled out suicide by the 32-year-old father of two.
Several hours later, there was a tense standoff as police watched scores of Palestinian protesters burning tyres in Abu Dis, where the family lives, an AFP correspondent reported.
Ramuni’s death comes after months of tension in Arab east Jerusalem following the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, with police in the city on high alert for violence on either side.
“According to an initial investigation, it appears there is no suspicion of criminal activity, in other words a suicide,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement, which said there were “no signs of violence on the body.”
But fellow bus driver Muatasem Fakeh said he had seen evidence to the contrary.
“We saw signs of violence on his body,” he told AFP.
“He was hanged over the steps at the back of the bus in a place where it would be impossible to hang yourself alone,” he added.
The victim’s brother, Osama al-Ramuni said the family did not accept the verdict of suicide, saying his body “had bruises on it,” suggesting he had been “tortured” before his death.
“My brother had children and was a happy man. It is impossible that he killed himself,” he told AFP.
“He had no problems that would make him do it,” he said, adding that a post-mortem would “reveal everything.”
“We reject the suicide theory. We all know it was settlers who killed him,” he said, using a common Palestinian euphemism for Jewish extremists.
Police said the body had been sent to Abu Kabir forensic institute for a post-mortem in coordination with his family.