Skip to main content

Palestinians protest inmate's death, warn Obama

From Kareem Khadder and Josh Levs, CNN
February 25, 2013 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Israeli officials say the inmate's body showed virtually "no signs of external damage"
  • NEW: Preliminary examinations do not "indicate the cause of death," it adds
  • Palestinian official says the inmate was tortured
  • If Obama won't pressure Israel, he'll visit "while Palestine is on fire," a Palestinian official says

Jerusalem (CNN) -- All of the Palestinians in Israeli prisons -- about 4,500 people -- took part in a hunger strike Sunday, and crowds protested in the streets of the West Bank as Palestinian officials called for an international investigation into an inmate's death.

A Palestinian official also sent a warning to U.S. President Barack Obama, who plans to make his first trip to Israel as president next month.

"If President Obama wants to visit the region peacefully, he should exert pressure on Israel to release the prisoners -- especially the ones who are on hunger strike -- or else he will visit while Palestine is on fire," Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe said.

Speaking at a news conference in Ramallah, Qaraqe demanded an international investigation.

Palestinians blame Israel for prisoner's death

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

Israel said doctors had worked to save the inmate, who was suffering from previous injuries. The prisoner, Arafat Jaradat, 30, died Saturday.

"The martyr Jaradat was subjected to extreme torture which led to his death, and there are no indications that he died from cardiac arrest as the Israeli occupation authorities claimed," Qaraqe said Sunday. He added that "signs of beating and torture appeared on his limbs, neck, and spine, and blood clots appeared around his mouth and nose."

He cited information from a Palestinian doctor who was present for the autopsy in Tel Aviv.

But the Israeli Health Ministry said the autopsy showed "no signs of external damage ... except the signs of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a small spot caused by an abrasion on the right breast."

There were blood clots in the muscle -- one on the shoulder and one on the side of the right breast and on both elbows -- and two broken ribs, which could have been caused by the CPR, the ministry said in a statement.

"There is nothing apparent from the first findings that indicate the cause of death," it added. Other tests are pending.

Jaradat will be buried Monday, his family said.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli officials had called on the Palestinian Authority to calm the Palestinian territories, where there have been large protests in recent days over the conditions of Palestinian prisoners.

There were several protests in the West Bank on Sunday.

Palestinian medical sources reported that two Palestinians were critically injured in clashes with Israeli police outside Ofer Prison in the West Bank. The Israel Defense Forces said it was looking into that report.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's liaison with Palestinians, Yitzhak Molco, passed on the demand for calm to the Palestinian Authority, Israeli government officials said.

Four prisoners had already begun a hunger strike, and several others have joined them in recent days. In the West Bank, protesters organized rallies to support them.

All the approximately 4,500 prisoners joined the strike Sunday, the Israel Prisons Service said.

Hassan Abed Rabo, a spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, said it was an "open-ended hunger strike" and "a sign of mourning" for Jaradat.

His death came amid a fury -- and a series of questions -- surrounding the death of a prisoner in 2010, referred to as "Prisoner X." Details came to light in recent days after a court document was released.

Jaradat, from a village near Hebron in the West Bank, was held for interrogation Monday by the Israeli secret service based on intelligence gathered by village residents, Israeli security sources said. The intelligence indicated Jaradat was involved in throwing stones near the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba in 2011. An Israeli citizen was injured in the incident.

Jaradat confessed, Israeli security sources said.

He suffered from back pains and a previous rubber bullet injury in his leg, as well as an injury from a tear gas canister that had hit his stomach, the security sources said.

While in custody, Jaradat was checked more than once by a doctor, and no medical problems were found. But after lunch Saturday, while resting, he was not feeling well, and emergency crews were called to the site. They could not save his life, security sources said.

Israel began an investigation and notified his family.

Rabo said Palestinians blame Israel for the death of "the martyr" and hold Israel responsible for the lives of all the prisoners on hunger strike.

Jaradat, the father of three, worked at a gas station, Rabo said.

"This incident should open the door to all sorts of investigation and accountabilities," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee. She called for Israeli prisons to be opened to the international community.

Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, called on Israel on Saturday to "immediately charge or release Palestinians detained without charge or trial for prolonged periods."

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention are one of many flashpoints in the Middle East conflict. Prisoners have launched hunger strikes in the past in hopes of bringing attention to their cause and pushing Israel to ease conditions or allow some prisoners to leave.

Israeli officials have pointed out that prisoners include members of extremist groups who have "blood on their hands."

In October 2011, Israel freed more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners -- including hundreds serving life sentences for attacks on Israelis -- in exchange for one person: Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas for more than five years.

CNN's Kareem Khadder reported from Jerusalem; CNN's Josh Levs reported from Atlanta. CNN's Michael Schwartz contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 2212 GMT (0612 HKT)
From giant zippers to buttock-shaped balloons, Jun Kitagawa's public art is whimsical, erotic and playful.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1258 GMT (2058 HKT)
Ukraine says it's forces have regained control of an airfield from Russian separatists. Nick Paton Walsh reports.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1624 GMT (0024 HKT)
Oscar Pistorius didn't consciously pull the trigger the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, the sprinter testified at his murder trial.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 2116 GMT (0516 HKT)
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
A mysterious new artwork has appeared in Cheltenham, where Britain's version of the NSA is located.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Like many parents across Liverpool, the McManamans waited. 25 years ago, it was all they could do.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
The Maltese Falcon makes a swift turn while at sea.
How do you design a superyacht fit for the billionaire who has everything money can buy?
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Pop art condoms in Kenya
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1542 GMT (2342 HKT)
mediterranean monk seal
Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 0043 GMT (0843 HKT)
Ebola victims usually come from remote areas -- but now the lethal virus is in a city of two million.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1240 GMT (2040 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT