Palestinians sources say detainee tortured to death

Family of Arafat Jaradat claim traces of blood found on the body; Israeli Health Ministry says results of autopsy inconclusive.

Palestinian detainee protest, Gaza 370 (photo credit: Photo: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
Palestinian detainee protest, Gaza 370
(photo credit: Photo: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoners Affairs, Issa Qaraqi, claimed Sunday that Arafat Jaradat, the Palestinian prisoner who died in Meggido Prison on Saturday, had been subjected to severe torture.
Qaraqi told reporters in Ramallah that an autopsy performed earlier on Jaradat's body "proved that he had been severely tortured" while in detention.
Qaraqi claimed that the autopsy did not provide any evidence that Jaradat had died of a heart attack, as announced by the Israeli authorities.
Qaraqi said that the Israeli version regarding Jaradat's death was a "lie" and held Israel fully responsible for "this cruel crime."
Israel, he added, "must be held fully accountable for this war crime." Qaraqi reiterated his call for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate Jaradat's death.
Qaraqi called on the PA leadership to take a quick decision "to join the Third and Fourth Geneva Convention" in response to the death of the Palestinian inmate. He said that such a move would allow the Palestinians to seek protection of the international community for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
Kamil Sabbagh, a lawyer for the PA Ministry for Prisoners Affairs, said he last saw Jaradat in court on February 21. "He was complaining of severe pain in the back and appeared exhausted," Sabbagh said. He claimed that Jaradat told him that he had been beaten during interrogation.
The Health Ministry on Sunday said the autopsy showed "no signs of external trauma."
In a statement, the ministry echoed the Palestinian account of the post mortum, saying that "two ribs were broken," but added that the broken bones may indicate resuscitation attempts.
"No signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest," the Health Ministry stated.
On Sunday, Jaradat's body was handed over to his family in the village of Sair, near Hebron, where he is expected to be buried on Monday. 
Jaradat's death triggered fresh protests in the West Bank, with hundreds of Palestinians taking to the streets and clashing with IDF soldiers.
Clashes were reported in Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem, Palestinian sources said. At least 36 Palestinians were injured during confrontations with IDF soldiers, the sources added.
The worst clashes occurred near Ofer Prison on the outskirts of Ramallah, where 26 Palestinians were reportedly injured, two of them from live ammunition. Among the wounded was the 15-year-old son of Ziad Hab al-Reeh, commander of the PA's Preventive Security Force in the West Bank.
Ahmed Qurei, a former PA prime minister, warned that the violence could erupt into a third intifada. He accused Israel of "assassinating" Jaradat and endangering the lives of other Palestinian prisoners, especially those who have been on hunger strike for several weeks.
Qurei also warned that Israel was preparing to perpetrate a "big crime" against the Aqsa Mosque and Muslim worshipers in Jerusalem. staff contributed to this report.