Arafat Jaradat died in Israel’s Megiddo prison yesterday after being interrogated by Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, also known as the Shabak. After his arrest at midnight on 18 February, during which he was beaten, Jaradat was held at al-Jalame detention and interrogation center before being transferred to Megiddo prison.
Jaradat was arrested under the suspicion that he was involved in stone-throwing that had wounded an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank, reported Ma’an News Agency, citing a Shin Bet statement.
Today, Jaradat’s father identified his son’s body.
The Palestinian minister in charge of prisoners’ affairs, Issa Qaraqe, called for “an international investigation into his death, that may have resulted from torture,” Ma’an reported.
Complaints of sharp pain
Al Jazeera English reports that an Israel Prisons Service spokesperson said that the death was probably caused by a cardiac arrest (an autopsy report contradicts the Israeli authorities’ findings — see the update below). During an interrogation session on Thursday, Jaradat was examined “numerous times” by a doctor and no health problems were found so the procedure continued, said the Shin Bet in a statement cited by Ma’an.
But the Shin Bet also stated that Jadarat suffered from health problems prior to his arrest, including back aches and injuries in his leg and stomach, sustained from a rubber bullet and a tear gas canister, according to Ma’an.
However Jaradat’s family told Ma’an that Arafat was in good health before his arrest and did not suffer from any diseases or health conditions.
According to the International Middle East Media Cente, Jaradat’s attorney Kamil Sabbagh said that Jaradat had “complained to him of sharp pain in the back and other parts of his body due to ongoing and extensive interrogation.”
Sabbagh represented Jaradat during a court session held at al-Jalame on Thursday. Jaradat told his lawyer that he was interrogated for several hours each day. Although he repeatedly complained of sharp pain, he was never seen by a physician. Sabbagh told the military judge about the complaints made by Jaradat. The judge instructed the prison administration to grant him the needed medical attention.
Addameer added in a statement today calling for international inquiry into Jaradat’s death:
Mr. Kamil Sabbagh, Arafat’s lawyer from the Ministry of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoner’s Affairs who defended him in a court hearing at Jalameh on 21 February 2013, reported that Arafat was subjected to torture during his interrogation, including being forced to sit for long hours in stress positions with his hands shackled behind his back. Arafat suffered from pain in his back, and therefore, during the court hearing on 21 February, his lawyer requested that he be given a health examination due to the severe conditions that he was detained under. Despite this, the judge ruled to extend his detention for a further twelve days, reducing the prosecution’s request of a fifteen day extension by only three days. The judge also ordered that the medical officials in the interrogation center examine his psychological and physical health and to report the results to the Shin Bet and the court. Two days later, on Saturday 23 February 2013, it was learned that Arafat Jaradat had passed away in a special section for the Shin Bet in Megiddo Prison, under conditions which are still unclear.
Arafat’s family stated that their son was heavily beaten by the IOF [Israeli occupation forces] during his arrest at the entrance of Sa’eer and that he was screaming from the difficult torture he was subjected to. The martyr’s wife, Ms. Dalal Ayayda, added that the intelligence officer that accompanied the IOF during the arrest requested that they allow[ed] him to return to his home for a moment to say goodbye to his wife and children. She considers this to be an indicator that his death in the prison was premeditated.
Jaradat’s death has sparked a mass hunger strike among the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails. A spokesperson for Israel’s Prison Service told Ma’an that approximately 4,500 prisoners in Israeli jails are refusing food from prison authorities.
Thirty-year-old Jaradat is from the Palestinian village of Sair near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. He is married and has two young children, a three-year-old and a two-year-old. Jaradat’s wife is expecting their third child in June.
Human rights defender under interrogation by Jaradat’s torturers
British-Danish security giant G4S provides security equipment to both al-Jalame and Megiddo prisons, according to a March 2011 report on the firm by the watchdog group Who Profits.
Stop the Wall youth coordinator and human rights defender Hassan Karajah, who was arrested in a late-night raid on his family’s home last month, is being interrogated at Jalame detention center by the same investigators involved in Jaradat’s case, according to the human rights group Addameer, which stated on Facebook today:
The Jalameh Military Court extended the detention and interrogation of activist and human rights defender HASSAN KARAJAH for 5 more days.His next hearing will be on Thursday 28 February 2013 in Ofer Military Court. The prosecution requested that his detention be extended eight days, which was reduced to 5 days.
Addameer’s lawyer Samer Sama’an confirmed that Hassan has been subjected to long interrogations by the Shin Bet security forces in Jalameh, and that he is being interrogated by the same investigators that were involved in the martyr Arafat Jaradat’s case.
Samer Sama’an also noted that the court was originally to be held in Salem Court, but at the last moment was transfered to Jalameh Court, meaning his family was barred from entering the court and seeing Hassan. Hassan’s family has only seen Hassan once since his arrest 31 days ago on 23 January 2013.
Rising number of Palestinian prisoners
Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization Addameer published its 1 February monthly detention report, which notes the following trends:
- The total number of Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails increased by 69 to 4,812.
- It is disturbing to note that the number of child prisoners increased by 26 to 219, including 31 children younger than 16 which is 8 more than per 1 January 2013.
- The number of female prisoners rose by 2 from 10 to 12.
- The number of Palestinian Legislative Council members increased from 12 to 15. Nine of the lawmakers are held without trial under administrative detention. In total, 178 Palestinians are held under administrative detention.
- The number of prisoners from Gaza remained the same with 437.
- Furthermore, the number of Palestinians serving life sentences increased with 2 to 531.
Update on autopsy report
The Palestinian rights group Al-Haq tweeted the findings of the autopsy report on the cause of Arafat Jaradat’s death, which contradicts Israel’s claim that Jaradat died of a heart attack: