By Dylan Takores
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
JERUSALEM, Israel – Palestinian inmate Arafat Jaradat, 30, suffered a fatal heart attack on Saturday, February 23, while detained in an Israeli prison. His death sparked a wave of protests throughout the Middle East in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
Jaradat was one of the approximately 4,500 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons. He was arrested for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli soldiers last week. His death reportedly occurred following an interrogation session by Israeli guards.
Hundreds of Palestinian inmates are presently engaged in a hunger strike, protesting the unjust treatment of Palestinian detainees. Sympathizers to the Palestinian cause view Jaradat’s death as a prime example of the mistreatment that the inmates suffer while in Israeli detention.
In response to Jaradat’s death, Issa Qaraqaa, the Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), stated in a news conference that the Israeli guards subjected Jaradat to physical and psychological torture.
Qaraqaa continued, “he was harshly interrogated, and Israel is the only country which still uses such inhuman methods.” He added that the torture Jaradat suffered “contradicts with the international law of human rights.”
Palestinian protestors in Gaza openly confronted Israeli soldiers. The unarmed protestors waved flags, chanted, and some hurled stones at the armed forces. The Israelis fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowds causing injuries to several protestors.
Two Palestinian protestors, Helmi Abdul-Aziz, 24, and Mustafa Hilal, 14, were shot on Saturday during a protest in the village of Kusra on the West Bank. The wounds were not fatal, but both suffered severe injuries. Israeli military officials maintain that it was Israeli civilians that shot the protestors because the soldiers were not using live ammunition.
Other clashes broke out near Jenin, Ramallah, and in Jaradat’s home town of Hebron. Outside of Israel, Egyptian activists also scheduled a protest to take place Sunday in Cairo near Tahrir Square.
Though the official Israeli autopsy claims Jaradat died of cardiac arrest, Qaraqaa believes that Jaradat’s death was a direct result of the torture. The autopsy found internal bleeding and broken ribs, but the source of these injuries is still unknown.
Yitzhak Molcho, a personal representative for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made an “unequivocal demand” to the PNA to quell the rising protests. PNA spokesman Adnan Damiri responded that the Palestinian resistance to Israeli troops is a “legitimate right given to any people to defend themselves and get rid of the occupation.”
For further information, please see:
Ahram Online – Protest in Cairo in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers – 24 February 2013
Al Jazeera – Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli custody – 24 February 2013
BBC News – Palestinian prisoners observe inmate death protest fast – 24 February 2013
Xinhua – Palestinians protest in West Bank, Gaza to support prisoners on hunger strike – 24 February 2013
Ynetnews – PA: Autopsy shows detainee died of torture in Israeli jail – 24 February 2013