Virtually every Palestinian family in the West Bank has had a member at some point imprisoned by Israel. So the latest Israeli crime committed against a prisoner is not so surprising, however sad that statement maybe. Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two, was taken away by Israel last Saturday on the suspicion that he threw stones at Israelis. Six days later, he died at Israel’s Megiddo prison after being interrogated by the Shin Bet security service, known for its “superb” torture techniques. Israel has a way of legitimising torture when dealing with Palestinians. Either that, or it comes forward with a basic denial — as in Jaradat’s case. And the sad reality is that Israel gets away with it.
Why isn’t the international community condemning this latest crime, which has rightfully stirred up anger amongst Palestinians? Why hasn’t it offered a team of international investigators to go to Megiddo prison and find out what happened in the case of Jaradat? Why does Israel continue to act with absolute impunity when it comes to detaining and torturing Palestinians? Is Jaradat’s death an Israeli ploy to stir up anger amongst Palestinians, in order to derail peace talks? Because politically speaking, that would suit Tel Aviv and the new leadership, which has shown no signs of seeking a peaceful resolution.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been arrested like Jaradat on flimsy grounds, with no proper legal framework offered to them. In fact, there has been a constant stream of protests, in solidarity with prisoners held by Israel, in order to highlight this issue. What Israel fails to understand is no matter how violently and criminally it acts against innocent Palestinians, its scare tactics will not work in stopping people from seeking justice and highlighting — peacefully — Israeli intransigence and brutality.
US President Barack Obama is headed to Israel next month. He would do well to confront Tel Aviv on the issue of Palestinian prisoners, which continues to be ignored despite the hunger strikes and peaceful demonstrations.