PA demands investigation of death in Israeli jail

Officials demand inquiry into death of detainee who suffered cardiac arrest, claim death may have resulted from torture.

Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday strongly condemned the death from an apparent heart attack of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat in Megiddo Prison, and called for a UN investigation into the case.
There were demonstrations in Ramallah and Hebron following his death and Palestinians in Israeli prisons declared a one-day hungerstrike for Sunday in protest.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas phoned Jaradat’s family to offer his condolences.
Security forces had detained Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat, 30, last Monday for allegedly throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail at soldiers, his attorney, Kamia Sabbagh, said.
Palestinian sources said that Jaradat belonged to Fatah’s armed-wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
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. An autopsy was set for Sunday, Sabbagh said.
The Prisons Service said on Saturday that foul play was not suspected in Jaradat’s death.
According to sources within the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service), Jaradat was arrested on Monday, after residents from his village of Sa’ir outside Hebron said that he took part in a rock-throwing attack in November that wounded an Israeli.
Jaradat confessed to the attack during questioning, and also complained of back pain, as well as pain from a rubber bullet lodged in his foot and an injury sustained when he was hit by a tear gas canister in the stomach, Shin Bet sources said.
On Thursday, he was taken for an examination by prison doctors, who told him that they did not find any medical issues to speak of. After lunch on Saturday, he complained of not feeling well and soon died, with paramedics unable to revive him, security sources said.
Kadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club, a leading association that cares for Palestinians in Israeli jails, said that according to the group’s records, Gardat did not suffer from any pre-existing illness.
“Israel was responsible for his life,” Fares said.
Sabbagh told The Jerusalem Post that on Thursday, a military court extended Jaradat’s arrest by 12 days. At the time, Sabbagh asked for a doctor to examine Jaradat both physically and emotionally. He said that Jaradat had complained of back pain as a result of sitting in a chair for a long time during prolonged questioning. He added that he had also been concerned about Jaradat’s emotional state.
According to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Jaradat was the father of two children aged three and two. His wife is pregnant with their third child.
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.
On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians gathered at Beitunya, near the Ofer security prison, and threw rocks at soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means.
Hebron and other areas in the southern West Bank saw more clashes.
Two Palestinian rioters, described as ringleaders by IDF sources, were shot with live 0.22 calliber bullets in the legs and lightly wounded – one in Beitunya and one in Hebron. Fifteen rioters were lightly wounded by rubber bullets at Beitunya.
Both instances of live fire were approved by commanders in the field.
The IDF also used riot dispersal methods on Friday to break up protests in Hebron, Nabi Salih, Kadum, El-Fawer near Hebron and Jalami near Jenin.
Police entered the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday following Friday prayers, after worshipers began throwing rocks at security personnel at the Mugrabi Gate. The Mugrabi Bridge leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount.
Additional security personnel immediately entered the Temple Mount when the rock throwing began and used shock grenades to disperse the crowds. Arabs threw firecrackers at the forces. There were no injuries as a result of the firecrackers or rocks.
Also on Friday, police arrested five people, four adults and one youth in the capital’s Isawiya neighborhood.
Police said the group threw rocks at police, but no one was injured.
Separately, 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 and Reuters contributed to this report.