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Detainee’s death sparks demand for inquiry, talk of intifada

Israel rejects torture claim; thousands on hunger strike

Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel on Sunday demanded the Palestinian Authority stem a surge of anti-Israel protests.AMMAR AWAD/Reuters

JERUSALEM — Palestinian officials on Sunday called for an international inquiry into the death of a 30-year-old prisoner in an Israeli jail, saying the man was tortured during interrogation, as thousands of Palestinian prisoners went on a one-day hunger strike in protest.

“Israel is responsible for what happened,’’ Issa Qaraqa, the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, said at a news conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank.

‘‘I accuse the state of Israel of subjecting him to tough physical and psychological pressure,’’ Qaraqa said. ‘‘He was subjected to a heavy and severe torture.’’

Israeli authorities dismissed such claims, saying the prisoner, Arafat Jaradat, died of a heart attack. An autopsy was scheduled for Sunday, with a Palestinian forensic specialist and a relative of Jaradat’s scheduled to attend.


Amid intensifying demonstrations in the West Bank that some officials and analysts see as the stirrings of a third intifada, or uprising, Israel on Sunday transferred to the Palestinian Authority $100 million in tax revenue it had withheld.

Isaac Molho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy, also sent a message to the Palestinian leadership that Israeli officials described as an ‘‘unequivocal demand to restore quiet on the ground.’’

Israel has refused Palestinian requests to release four prisoners who have been on long-term hunger strikes or 123 people who have been detained since before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

‘‘Some of these people are accused of very heinous crimes,’’ a senior Israeli official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the news media. ‘‘They’re saying that every Palestinian hunger striker should have a get-out-of-jail-free card. You can’t have a system like that. It’s not sustainable.’’

After days of demonstrations in solidarity with the hunger strikers that have included clashes with Israeli soldiers, hundreds of Palestinians turned out Sunday in cities and villages to protest Saturday’s death of Jaradat, who relatives said worked in a gas station and was the father of a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy.


Demonstrators in Gaza waved flags of Palestinian political factions along with banners reading ‘‘Tortured.’’

“We will resort to all means to liberate the prisoners,’’ said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, the militant Islamist party that rules Gaza Strip.

Atallah Abu al-Sabah, Hamas’s minister of prisoner affairs, criticized Palestinian leaders in the West Bank for their handling of the issue and called for kidnapping Israeli soldiers.