Monday, February 25, 2013

Interrogated to death in an Israeli jail

For the Israeli authorities, stone-throwing by Palestinians is a sufficient reason for murder by interrogation. That’s the only conclusion you can draw from the autopsy report into the death of Arafat Jaradat who has died in an Israeli detention centre.

News of his death sparked huge protest rallies yesterday in the occupied territories of Khan Youmi and Rafah, across the West Bank and Gaza, with the backing of the Palestinian Authority.

Jaradat was from the village of Sair near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. He was arrested on 18 February and held at the al-Jalame detention and interrogation centre. He died in a special section controlled by the notorious Israeli intelligence service, Shin Bet.

After being briefed by a Palestinian pathologist, the Palestinian minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraka said the autopsy showed severe bruising in multiple areas of Jaradat’s body.

The British-Danish corporate giant G4S, who were paid million to run the London 2012 Olympic security fiasco, provides “equipment” for both the prisons in which Jaradat was held. The rising numbers include some 219 children.

The Israeli Prisons Service has claimed that Jaradat died of a heart attack. But during his interrogation (aka torture) he was examined by an IPS doctor who was said to have found “no health problems”. Shin Bet’s tormentors saw fit to continue the interrogation. One can only imagine the scenes.

Jaradat’s lawyer, Kamil Sabbagh, who defended him in court last week, said that his client had told him he was being questioned for several hours each day and complained of sharp pains but that no physician had seen him. His family say that after Jaradat was arrested, he was allowed to return home briefly to say goodbye, which they saw as an indication he would be killed.

His death in the hands of the Israeli authorities has sparked a mass hunger strike by most of the 4,812 Palestinian prisoners currently illegally held in Israel jails. This number includes children under the age of 16 and 15 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Fears are growing for other activists and human rights defenders, such as Hassan Karajah. His lawyer is calling for an international inquiry into Jaradat’s death. Hassan is being interrogated by the same Shin Bet investigators who oversaw the death of Jaradat.

It is not only Palestinian human rights organisations who are opposing the shocking treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel have submitted dozens of requests to visit hunger strikers which have been ignored.

They cite the cases of Ayman Sharawna, Samer Issawi, (on hunger strike since last summer) and Jafar Ezzedi and Tariq Qaa’dan, who have been on hunger strike since November.

In a strong statement, PHR-Israel said the hunger strikers have been denied family visits despite their life threatening condition. The group said that the actions of the Israeli authorities “repeatedly violate hunger strikers’ human rights and contravene Israeli laws and regulations, international conventions, and guidelines on medical ethics”.

PHR-Israel denounced the fact that the hunger strikers continue to be shacked to their hospital beds, in violation of medical ethics. It seems that the prison authorities have even ignored guidelines from the Israeli ministry of health.

Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an that escalating protests were "a natural development of popular non-violent resistance into a popular non-violent intifada and there is nothing left for Palestinians but to use their popular resistance to get their freedom”. 

The mass hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners coincides with a financial crisis in the West Bank. A teachers’ strike is starting tomorrow and health care workers are already on a walk-out.

Negotiations with Israel are off the agenda as the settlements multiply throughout the West Bank. Frustration with the political leadership is growing for a variety of reasons. A third Intifada, a new Palestinian uprising, appears inevitable.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary

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