Ramallah: Palestinians yesterday were outraged after a 30-year-old died in Israeli custody and a hunger strike by four other inmates sparked a week of West Bank protests.
The death of Arafat Jaradat on Saturday sparked clashes in the West Bank and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) held the Israel’s Shin Bet security service, and the government, responsible for the death. Palestinians also called for an international investigation of Israel’s treatment of prisoners.
Jaradat’s death raised new questions about Shin Bet, which has been accused by rights groups of mistreating Palestinians during interrogation.
Palestinian officials and the detainee’s family alleged that Jaradat was mistreated by the security service, saying he was healthy at the time of his arrest last week. Israeli officials said Jaradat died of an apparent heart attack and denied he was beaten or subjected to any treatment that could have led to his death.
Several thousand Palestinian prisoners held by Israel observed a one-day fast on Sunday to protest Jaradat’s death, which was bound to spur more Palestinian demonstrations in support of prisoners.
Meanwhile, PNA president Mahmoud Abbas called the family of the victim and offered his condolences, promising the government would follow up in investigating Jaradat’s death.
Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad demanded that the truth about the circumstances of Jaradat’s death be revealed. “Jaradat died under Israeli detention and investigation and that is a serious violation to the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he said.
The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs and Prisoner Club have held the occupation forces fully responsible for Jaradat’s death, urging the international community to dispatch an investigative committee to probe the incident.
“This is yet another Israeli crime against Palestinian prisoners to be added to the already long list,” said Eisa Qaraqei, the Palestinian Minister of Detainees’ Affairs. “Jaradat died after six days of detention, which can logically show the kind of torture he was subjected to. It is time for the international community to act before it is too late. Several Palestinian fasting prisoners are on the verge of death and will shortly face Jaradat’s fate.
“This is the worst and most difficult and critical time for the prisoners in the Palestinian history.”
Qadourah Fares, who heads the Palestinian Prisoner Club, told Gulf News that Israeli occupation forces neglect Palestinian prisoners medically in an inhuman way. “The Israeli forces failed to provide Jaradat with the necessary treatment to save his life,” he said.
“Even while he was dying, the Israeli forces refused to rush him to a hospital for treatment and that was the real cause for Jaradat’s death. The international community should get instantly involved to spare the world a real catastrophe in the Israeli prisons.”
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on Sunday announced a day-long hunger strike against Jaradat’s death, with other protests planned by the leadership of the Prisoner’s Movement.
The Shin Bet said Jaradat was arrested last Monday after residents in his West Bank village of Saeer said he was involved in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli. Jaradat admitted the charge, as well to another West Bank rock-throwing incident last year, the Shin Bet said.
The agency said that during interrogation, he was examined several times by a doctor who detected no health problems. On Saturday, he was in his cell and felt unwell after lunch, the agency said. “Rescue services and a doctor were alerted and treated him, they didn’t succeed in saving his life,” the statement said.
— With additional inputs by AP