News / Middle East

Death of Palestinian Prisoner Sparks Unrest

Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian youths during a protest north of the West Bank city of Jenin in support to the Palestinian prisoners, Feb. 22, 2013.
Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian youths during a protest north of the West Bank city of Jenin in support to the Palestinian prisoners, Feb. 22, 2013.
Robert Berger
Palestinian unrest is escalating, following the death of a prisoner in Israeli custody.  .

Palestinians burned tires and threw stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.  The clashes occurred at several locations in the West Bank as 3,000 Palestinian prisoners held a one-day hunger strike.

The protests follow the death of Arafat Jaradat, who died in Israeli custody.  Palestinian officials have demanded an international investigation, saying Jaradat may have been tortured.

Jaradat’s father, who identified the body, said there were signs of blood on his head.  He told Israel Radio that his 30-year-old son was in good health when he was arrested last week, and he blamed Israeli interrogators for his death.

Israeli authorities say Jaradat was not beaten during interrogation and that he died of a heart attack.

Israel is holding about 4,500 Palestinian prisoners on charges ranging from stone throwing to armed attacks and bombings.

A long hunger strike by four detainees has put the prisoner issue at the top of the Palestinian agenda, and protests demanding their release have been growing in the West Bank for a week.  The violence has raised fears in Israel of a third Palestinian uprising.

Israeli defense official Amos Gilad accused the Palestinian Authority of orchestrating the unrest.

He told Israel Radio the Palestinians are spreading lies about torture in order to incite “fire and violence” on the streets.

Israel sent a tough message to the Palestinian government demanding a restoration of calm.

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