Hundreds of Palestinian protestors have taken to the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip after what they’ve deemed as the wrongful death of a Palestinian man who was held in an Israeli jail.
Among the most contentious topics between Palestinians and Israelis is the holding and treatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails. Currently, 4,500 Palestinians are held by Israeli authorities — all of whom participated in a hunger strike on Sunday to protest the death of 30-year-old, Arafat Jaradat.
According to Israeli authorities, Jaradat died on Saturday of what they claimed to be a heart attack. But, Palestinian officials claim otherwise. They say that he died after getting tortured in interrogations, citing the lack of heart damage and severe bruising on the man’s body.
“The signs that appeared during the autopsy show clearly that he was subjected to severe torture that led immediately to his death,” Issa Qaraka, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, said at a news conference in Ramallah.
“I hold Israel fully responsible for killing Arafat Jaradat,” Qaraka added, calling for an international investigation into Jaradat’s death. “The Israeli story was forged and full of lies.”
As a concession to assuage protestors, Palestinians have requested that Israelis release four prisoners who have been on a long-term hunger strike in Israeli prisons, as well as 123 prisoners who have been detained since before 1993. This was of course prior to when the Oslo Accords were signed, which was when the Palestinian government, the Palestinian National Authority, was created and given control of certain territories. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will not cede to the Palestinians’ demands, but he did authorize the transfer of $100 million worth of tax revenue Israel was withholding from the Palestinians.
Jaradat was arrested last Monday after a November incident that involved him throwing rocks at Israeli cars near a West Bank settlement. Jaradat, father of a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy, admitted to throwing the stones, but was further interrogated regarding throwing fire bombs. At his hearing on Thursday, Jaradat complained of severe pain around his upper body that he said came from his interrogation.
Jaradat’s death will likely contribute to further civil disobedience in the highly volatile region. According to the New York Times, about 800,000 Palestinians have been held by Israelis since 1967, and Jaradat was the 203rd to die during imprisonment.