IDF on high alert amid Palestinian prisoner hunger strike

Security forces prepare for possible violent demonstrations in West Bank, east Jerusalem after Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli prison; 3,000 Palestinian prisoners launch one-day hunger strike in protest.

Palestinian protest flame HawaraCheckpoint 370 (photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini)
Palestinian protest flame HawaraCheckpoint 370
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini)
Security forces were on high alert in the West Bank and east Jerusalem on Sunday morning amid concerns that the death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat in Megiddo Prison on Saturday would set off violent Palestinian demonstrations.
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday strongly condemned Jaradat's death from an apparent heart attack and called for a UN investigation into the case.
There were demonstrations in Ramallah and Hebron following his death and 3,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons declared a one-day hunger strike for Sunday in protest.
His death comes amid heightened tensions as a group of security prisoners in Israeli jails engage in an ongoing hunger strike. Even before Jaradat’s death, Palestinians rioted and attacked security personnel in several places in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem on Friday.
Police are investigating the death and an autopsy was set for Sunday.
PA Minister for Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqi held Israel fully responsible for the death of Jaradat and charged that he had been tortured.
Qaraqi and PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi called on the UN to open an investigation into the death of Jaradat.
“This is not an isolated case,” Ashrawi said, referring to the death of the inmate.
“This is the case of the rights of all the prisoners – rights that are being violated by the occupation. This requires quick action to open Israeli prisons to the world.”
Ashrawi said the Palestinians were determined to demand that the UN Security Council force Israel to honor the rights of Palestinian prisoners.
Contributing to the tense atmosphere in the West Bank were clashes between settlers and Palestinians on Saturday.
The IDF is investigating the possibility that Israeli civilians shot two Palestinians from Kusra, near Nablus, during clashes with settlers and the IDF on Saturday.
Aron Katsof, a spokesman for the Esh Kodesh outpost, said that Palestinians attacked his small community around noon by throwing stones and that he and others from the outpost and nearby settlements went out to defend their homes. He denied that anyone had shot at the Palestinians.
Rabbis for Human Rights said the Palestinians were shot in Kusra. The organization’s field worker Zacharia Sadeh charged that violence broke out after settlers had attacked two homes in the village.
Melanie Lidman, Ariel Ben Solomon, staff and Reuters contributed to this report.