JERUSALEM - A Palestinian prisoner died Saturday in an Israeli jail, a prison spokeswoman said, with a Palestinian official charging he was killed during questioning and demanding an international probe.
Arafat Jaradat was “arrested a few days ago. He was killed during the investigation,” the Palestinian minister in charge of prisoner affairs Issa Qaraqaa told AFP. “We demand the creation of an international commission of inquiry to probe the circumstances of his death,” Qaraqaa added. Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said Jaradat, a 30-year-old from the West Bank city of Hebron, died suddenly at the Meggido detention centre in northern Israel. “I can confirm that a Palestinian prisoner died today in the Meggido prison. It was probably a cardiac arrest. I don’t have additional details at the moment,” Weizman said.
Shin Bet internal intelligence service said Jaradat had been taken ill just before his death. “Medics were called to treat him but they were unable to save his life,” Shin Bet said in a statement, adding that Israeli police had opened an investigation into the circumstances of Jaradat’s death. The Islamist Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip accused Israel of responsibility for Jaradat’s death due to “the inhuman conditions in Israeli jails.” Jaradat’s death could exacerbate tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories which have been rocked in past weeks by protests of solidarity with four other prisoners detained by Israel who are on hunger strike. Jaradat was arrested on Monday after incidents near the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron in the West Bank.
News of his death comes a day after nearly 100 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces during demonstrations in the West Bank to demand the release of the four hunger-strikers. Statistics published by Israeli rights group B’Tselem show by the end of 2012, 4,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails.
The fate of Palestinian prisoners, and in particular the four hunger strikers, has sparked protests across the Palestinian territories since the start of February and raised international concern.