Death of Palestinian in Israeli Jail Not Due to Abuse or Poisoning, Autopsy Finds

Health Ministry still unsure what caused the death of Arafat Jaradat, whose death has sparked unrest in the West Bank; final results of autopsy will only be released in a few weeks.

There is no evidence that Arafat Jaradat, the Palestinian prisoner who died in Megiddo Prison on Saturday, was either poisoned or physically abused, Israel's Health Ministry said Thursday after examining new findings from the autopsy.

The ministry said the microscopic findings, which were collected when the autopsy was performed on Sunday but came back only Thursday morning, completely rule out the claim that Jaradat was poisoned.

Nevertheless, it’s still not possible to determine what did cause Jaradat’s death, officials at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir said. Additional samples taken from his body during the autopsy are still being tested, and the final results are not expected back for another two weeks or so.

The ministry said the findings of the autopsy to date, including the bruises and the broken ribs, were “characteristic findings of a resuscitation, which the medical crew from the Israel Prison Service and Magen David Adom engaged in for 50 minutes in an effort to save his life.”

The autopsy was performed by the Institute for Forensic Medicine’s chief pathologist, Dr. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of chief pathologist of the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Saber Aloul, and the head of the Health Ministry’s health administration, Prof. Arnon Afek. It found no evidence that Jaradat was suffering from any illness. The initial supposition in Israel was that he died of a heart attack.

On Sunday, Dr. Aloul told reporters that marks on Jaradat's body showed he had been tortured during his interrogation.

The Shin Bet security service denied Aloul was tortured. A 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.

Prior to the autopsy, Israeli officials had said Jaradat likely died of cardiac arrest, while Palestinians believed he died as a result of torture.

No sign of heart failure was found during the examination, nor was any other sign of illness, according to Aloul and Israeli officials.

'Lies and cover-up'

The Palestinian Authority and member of Jaradat's family rejected the conclusions of the autopsy on Thursday, saying that they were a continuation of lies and cover-up by the Israeli defense establishment.

The chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners' club, Qadura Fares told Haaretz that Israel began lying from the very first moment, and that it continues with this policy even though, according to him, the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs has a report from the Palestinian pathologist who was present at the autopsy saying that Jaradat died as a result of torture, that he had a healthy heart, and that there were no signs he died of heart failure.

In addition, Fares argued, if the Israel claims that Jaradat did not die of torture, then what did he die of? "As we have said from the beginning, we demand an external investigation committee that is impartial, and if Israel is sure of her position, then why would there be opposition to an outside committee whose conclusions will be accepted by both sides?"