Conflict & Justice

Arafat Jaradat, Palestinian prisoner, dies in Israeli jail


A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones towards Israeli security forces during clashes in the village of Saair, east the West Bank city of Hebron, on February 24, 2013 following the death of a Palestinian prisoner held in Israel. Some 3,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails were staging a one-day hunger strike in protest at the death of the inmate Arafat Jaradat, an official said, as security forces clashed with demonstrators in the West Bank.


Hazem Bader

Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian prisoner being held at Meggido Prison for throwing stones that injured an Israeli, has died. 

The cause of Jaradat's death is disputed. The prison claims that the 30-year-old father of two died of a heart attack, while Palestinian activists claim he was killed during questioning, Al Jazeera English reported

Jaradat's lawyer and the Ministry of Detainee Affairs said Sunday that Jaradat was tortured during interogations, Ma'an News reported

The Israeli institute that did the autopsy is now saying, pending final results, that no signs of any physical abuse and also no signs of illness, Abu Kabir Forensic Institute said on Israel Army Radio.

Both Israeli and Palestinian observers say a third intifada could be imminent, in which both sides risk losing control of the security situation in the West Bank, reports GlobalPost correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky. 

"Consequences both for Israelis and Palestinians could be dire," Tarnopolsky said. "The situation in the West Bank is so fraught that whatever really happened to Jaradat may be irrelevant."  

Tarnopolsky reports that hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators have been gathering to support four Palestinian prisoners who are on a long-term hunger strike, in particular Samer Issawi, who has been jailed for seven months and is due to be released in three weeks. 

The protests were ongoing as night fell Saturday in the region. 

Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service said in a statement that Jaradat, who was arrested last Saturday, was ill before he died. Hamas and the International Solidarity Movement both allege his death was a result of the "inhuman conditions in Israeli jails" and that Jaradat had no previous medical conditions. Al Jazeera reported

"This is a crime against our prisoners committed by the Israeli government," Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told Al Jazeera. "There must be a third Intifada [uprising] and a revolution … to pressure Israel to protect our prisoners."

The Shabak Israel Security Agency stressed Jaradat was not one of the four prisoners arrested for stone-throwing who were staging a hunger strike, Arutz Sheva reported

However, many prisoners have since joined the hunger strike in solidarity with Jaradat. Al Jazeera reported that around 800 prisoners were refusing to eat in the wake of their fellow inmate's death. 

Police have launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 30-year-old prisoner's death, and B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, called for it to be "independent, effective and transparent, and finalized swiftly." 

Jaradat hailed from Sa’eer, a village near Hebron, and was expecting a third child with his wife in June, according to the International Solidarity Movement's statement.