Palestinian authorities are demanding to know how a convicted killer who had sought refuge in the Palestine embassy in Bulgaria died after being found nearby in a pool of his own blood. Israel had recently demanded the extradition of Omar Zayed after discovering he lived in Sofia where he ran a grocery store. Zayed, from the Palestinian town of Jenin, had been found guilty of killing Israeli yeshiva student Eliyahu Amedi in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1986, serving four years before escaping from hospital in Bethlehem where he was on hunger strike.
Zayed fled to several Arab cities before ending up in Bulgaria in 1994, where he married and fathered three children. On 15 December 2015 Israel asked for him to be deported and he sought refuge in the Palestinian embassy. He was found dead nearby on 26 February. Early reports said he had been shot, but it was later reported he had fallen from the fourth floor of the embassy, which was unguarded because it had not been attacked in at least 20 years. He was still alive when discovered but died before he could be taken to hospital.
Zayed's death came just hours after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov returned from a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories where he had been discussing his case. "I told all sides that our prosecution had received a request for extradition and now a court was to decide whether he will be extradited or not," Borisov told the Bulgarian Parliament on Friday.
Zayed, 52, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and some Palestinian groups claim he was killed by Israel. Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed al-Madbuh said: "Omar is one of the Palestinian fighters who led the struggle against the occupation and fulfilled his duty to his land and his people."
However Israel has shrugged off claims it targetted Zayed. A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, said, "This is not an Israeli issue." A security source was also quoted by an Israeli radio station as saying: "Israel has no interest in striking at an elderly terrorist, especially if it involves danger or committing resources."
However speaking on Israeli TV, a sister of Eliyahu Amedi said she was glad "there is one less murderer walking around free." Yafah Pinhasi added that "it wasn't the hand of God that threw him down" [from the fourth floor of the embassy].