Thousands Attend Funeral of Palestinian Detainee Who Died in Israeli Prison

IDF on high alert in West Bank for third consecutive day following the death of Arafat Jaradat in Megiddo Prison on Saturday; autopsy shows he died from cardiac arrest.

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Palestinians carry the body of Arafat Jaradat before his funeral in the West Bank village of Sa'ir near Hebron February 25, 2013.
Palestinians carry the body of Arafat Jaradat before his funeral in the West Bank village of Sa'ir near Hebron February 25, 2013. Credit: Reuters

Over 10,000 Palestinians attended the funeral procession on Monday for the detainee Arafat Jadarat, who died on Saturday in Meggido Prison at the age of 30. The funeral ended without disturbances, however the IDF remains on high alert in anticipation of continued riots.

The funeral procession made its way from Hebron to the nearby village of Sa'ir, where Jaradat lived. In order to enable the movement of the masses of participants attending the funeral, and in an attempt to prevent friction with the settlers and IDF soldiers, Highway 60 between Gush Etzion and Hebron has been closed.

A senior Fatah official, Azzam al-Ahmed, said Monday that the Palestinian Authority is supporting and encouraging the increase in confrontations on the West Bank. "Resistance is a natural right, and we are all in agreement about popular resistance," he said.

PA officials rejected on Sunday Israeli accusations that PA officials are exacerbating the situation in the region in an attempt to ignite a third intifada. At the same time, PA officials are not concealing their fear of losing control over the Palestinian street, if the escalation continues.

"We are not planning an intifada, but Israeli policy is only fanning the flames at the moment," said a senior Fatah official, Dr. Nabil Sha'ath. "If Israel continues this way, the entire region is liable to become involved in a dangerous spiral."

Israeli prisons reported a return to the routine this morning after Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike Sunday. With the exception of 1,100 prisoners in Megiddo Prison, who announced that they will refuse to accept breakfast Monday and Tuesday, all the prisoners have gone back to eating regularly.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the political-security division in the Defense Ministry, said Monday  morning in an interview with Army Radio that "the PA is apparently trying to walk a fine line, the problem is that in this game you never know when things will get out of control."

Gilad added, "At the moment the Palestinians are not interested in a third intifada. But we can expect a large number of incidents in the near future. A pattern of heating up the region requires a long-term situation assessment, and at this point there are other factors that can contain the violence, but it's not certain that things will continue this way."

The PA claimed Sunday that Jaradat died of torture in an Israeli prison rather than from cardiac arrest, as the Shin Bet security services and the Israel Prison Service have both reported. Israel rejected the claim and said that it will take another 10 days until autopsy findings are completed. But the Health Ministry spokesperson said no exterior signs of injuries were discovered during the medical examination, apart from resuscitation bruises and a small abrasion on the right side of Jaradat's chest.

Saber Aloul, chief pathologist of the Palestinian Authority, who attended the autopsy in Israel, said marks on Arafat Jaradat's body showed he had been tortured during his interrogation. 

On Sunday, the PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs, Issa Karake, convened a press conference in Ramallah, with the participation of the director of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, Qadura Fares, and said that in the autopsy of Jaradat's body there were no findings that could attest to a heart attack or heart failure, as the security services in Israel initially claimed.

Karake noted that his words are based on initial results from Sunday's autopsy, performed at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir by the chief pathologist of the institute, Prof. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of chief Palestinian pathologist Dr. Aloul and the director of the Health Adminstration in the Health Ministry, Prof. Arnon Afek.

Karake said it is already clear that there was no problem with Jaradat's heart and that serious signs of violence were found on his body, including marks from beatings and injuries on his upper back and chest. There were also, he said, injuries to the prisoner's spine and neck. Karake reiterated the Palestinian demand that Israel establish an independent investigative committee to examine the circumstances surrounding Jaradat's death.

"The Israeli version is false, Israel is responsible for Jaradat's death," he said. "This is a war crime and all those responsible should stand trial." Karake added that the full report by the PA pathologist will be presented on Monday at the government meeting in Ramallah.

Fares said at the press conference that it is common knowledge among Palestinians that 95 percent of Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israel are tortured during interrogation, and therefore it is impossible to accept the Israeli version of the incident. He said that "human rights organizations worldwide and the international community must investigate the Israeli lie when it comes to the treatment of Palestinian prisoners."

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