UN rights official calls for forensic investigation into Palestinian prisoner's death in Israel


A Palestinian girl carries a poster of Arafat Jaradat, who died in an Israeli prison.



A top rights official at the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday demanded a forensic probe into the death of a Palestinian prisoner days after he was detained by Israel, according to a UN statement

Richard Falk, the UN's special representative for human rights in the Palestinian territories, said an outside investigation into the case of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat was urgently needed on the grounds that "Israel has shown a pattern and practice of prisoner abuse," the statement said.

Jaradat was taken in for questioning by Israeli authorities last week over a 2011 rock-throwing incident that reportedly injured an Israeli, said CNN. He died in an Israeli jail on Saturday under unclear circumstances.

Falk on Wednesday called on the UN Human Rights Council to organize an international forensic team to follow-up on signs of torture found on the 30-year-old Jaradat's body during the autopsy conducted by the Palestinian Authority’s head pathologist, Dr. Saber Aloul, according to a Wednesday UN news release

Jaradat's death has enflamed Israeli-Palestinian tensions, with over 4,000 Palestinian detainees in Israel staging a massive hunger strike on Sunday to call attention to the case, according to CNN.

Jaradat was given a hero's burial by over 10,000 Palestinians on Monday. 

The unrest comes a month ahead of US President Barack Obama's planned trip to Israel, a fact not lost on Palestinian authorities. The territories' minister of prisoner affairs, Issa Qaraqe, issued a statement warning: "If President Obama wants to visit the region peacefully, he should exert pressure on Israel to release the prisoners -- especially the ones who are on hunger strike -- or else he will visit while Palestine is on fire," reported CNN.

Israel first said Jaradat had been killed by a heart attack, but the United Nations said initial autopsy results did not state the cause of death, according to CNN

Palestinian officials told CNN that Jaradat is the 203rd Palestinian to have died in Israeli custody since 1967.