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Middle East

Palestinians say Israel 'tortured' detainee

Minister dismisses Israeli claim that Palestinian prisoner died of heart attack, as thousands protest over his death.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2013 20:49
Israeli security forces clashed with protesters near the West Bank city of Jenin [AFP]

The Palestinian government is alleging that a Palestinian man who died in Israeli custody was tortured to death, dismissing claims that his death was due to a heart attack.

Arafat Jaradat's autopsy showed torture resulting from fractures in his body and bruises in his face, while his heart was in good condition, said Issa Qaraqaa, the minister in charge of prisoner affairs, citing a Palestinian doctor who took part in the autopsy.

"These results prove Israel killed him," Qaraqaa told a news conference on Sunday.

Jaradat died on Saturday in an Israeli jail from what prison authorities initially said appeared to have been a cardiac arrest.

The Israeli ministry of health released a statement after the autopsy, saying that preliminary findings had not been able to determine the cause of death but that bruising and broken ribs were likely the result of resuscitation attempts.

The 30-year-old man from Sair near Hebron in the occupied West Bank was arrested last Monday for alleged involvement in a November 2012 stone-throwing incident that injured an Israeli, according to Israel's Shin Bet domestic intelligence service.

The death of Jaradat set off more clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian stone-throwers in several areas of the West Bank on Sunday.

In one incident, two Palestinians were wounded by army fire, including a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the chest, a Palestinian health official said.

Prison protests

Several thousand Palestinian prisoners held by Israel observed a one-day fast to protest Jaradat's death.

In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians from Hamas, which governs the territory, Islamic Jihad and other factions, also gathered to protest against Jaradat’s death.

 Israel holds more than 4,600 Palestinians in jail on charges
that range from stone-throwing to deadly attacks [AFP]

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

Protests in solidarity with Samer Issawi, one of the four hunger strikers who has refused food since August to protest against his detention, were also held on Sunday.

Protesters in Issawi's village and in different parts of Hebron city hurled stones at Israeli security forces who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, witnesses said.

Palestinians said Jaradat was a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

Jaradat's body was transferred to a hospital in Hebron late on Sunday after an autopsy at Israel's national forensic institute near Tel Aviv.

He was to be buried at noon on Monday.

Rescue attempt

Jaradat's attorney, Kamil Sabbagh, said his client told an Israeli military judge on Thursday during a hearing that he was being forced to sit for long periods during interrogation. He also complained of back pain and seemed terrified to return to the Shin Bet lockup, although he did not have any apparent signs of physical abuse, Sabbagh said.

After the court hearing, the judge ordered Jaradat to be examined by a prison doctor.

The Shin Bet said that during interrogation, Jaradat was examined several times by a doctor who detected no health problems. On Saturday, he was in his cell and felt unwell after lunch, the agency said.

"Rescue services and a doctor were alerted and treated him," the statement said. But "they didn't succeed in saving his life".

Israel holds more than 4,600 Palestinians in jail on charges that range from stone-throwing to deadly attacks on Israeli targets.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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