Arafat Jaradat, a 29-year-old Palestinian detainee, died at the Megiddo Prison on Saturday for a reason yet unknown. It is suspected the cause of death was a cardiac arrest.
A statement issued by the Shin Bet said that Jaradat was arrested last week on suspicion he hurled stones at an Israeli civilian during Operation Pillar of Defense. On Saturday, he fell ill and medics were unable to save him. Police launched an investigation. Jaradat's family was notified immediately after his death.
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It should be noted that Jaradath was not among the Palestinian hunger striking prisoners.
Due to the sensitive nature of the case it was decided that it would be investigated by the police's International Crimes Unit which is set to write a special report on the incident.
Investigators have already started collecting testimonies from guards at the prison and those in contact with Jaradat before his death. Defense officials have offered Palestinian Authority officials to be involved in the autopsy, if one is conducted, and said they will be updated on the investigation.
Jaradat, a resident of the village of Sair near Hebron, was detained for questioning after locals from his village suggested he was involved in the throwing of stones near Kiryat Arba on November 18.
An Israeli citizen was lightly hurt in the incident. According to the Shin Bet, he confessed to the act.
Prior to his arrest and during his interrogation it was revealed that Jaradat was suffering from back aches and had in the past sustained injuries to his left leg from a rubber bullet and to his abdomen from a gas grenade.
He saw a doctor several times during his questioning and as late as last Thursday but no medical issues were detected.
Family: He was tortured
Jaradat is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and two children. Contrary to the Shin Bet statement, the family claims he was arrested eight days ago and immediately transferred to the Megiddo Prison where he was questioned on suspicion he was a member of a Fatah cell. They claim he died after being tortured.
“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.
Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, denounced Israel and accused it of negligence. He said Jaradat died because he was not properly diagnosed and hospitalized. He called on the international community to intervene to prevent similar cases.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian prisoners' leaders said they will launch a one-day hunger strike on Sunday in protest of Jaradat's death. Upon learning of Jaradat's death, Palestinian youths began clashes with security forces in Hebron.
Yoav Zitun contributed to this report
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