On Saturday, February 23,
Mohammed Al Namrooti from Gaza doused himself with gasoline and set himself
on fire in the street Tibet-style to protest the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Daily demonstrations this week in Jerusalem and the West Bank have
been answered by Israeli soldiers using tear gas, rubber coated steel
bullets, and stun grenades.
Arafat Jaradat, a 33 year old father of two who worked at a West
Bank gas station, was arrested for allegedly throwing stones. Days later,
Israeli officials reported that Jaradat had died of a heart attack during
interrogation at Megiddo Prison on Saturday, February 23.
Physicians for Human Rights issued a statement casting doubt on
the Israeli medical examiner (translated Hebrew):
"Who is the doctor who operated on the body of Arafat Jaradat, a
prisoner who died Saturday at Megiddo Prison? None other than Prof. Yehuda
Hiss, who was dismissed from his post in October 2012 as the chief medical
examiner of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in the wake of many failures
that occurred during the morgue management, including harvesting organs
from the bodies, without the consent of the deceased or their families.”
An autopsy conducted in the presence of Palestinian officials revealed
that Arafat Jaradat died of extreme torture in Israeli custody, not cardiac
arrest, the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs said Sunday. Issa Qaraqe said
Jaradat had six broken bones in his neck, spine, arms and legs.
Jaradat's lawyer Kameel Sabbagh was the last person to see him:
"When I entered the courtroom I saw Jaradat sitting on a wooden
chair in front of the judge. His back was hunched and he looked sick and
fragile. When I sat next to him he told me that he had serious pains in
his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and
hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated. When Jaradat
heard that the judge postponed his hearing he seemed extremely afraid."
Jadarat was given a hero's funeral in Sa'ir, near Hebron. At least
8,000 people flowed into the streets to pay their respects. Dalal, the
martyr’s wife, who is pregnant, announced that she would name her son
Arafat, after his father.
Jaradat’s funeral coincided with the 19th anniversary of the Ibrahimi
Mosque massacre in Hebron committed by a Jewish settler from Brooklyn,
Baruch Goldstein on February 25, 1994 in the holy month of Ramadan during
dawn prayer. Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers and wounded
150 others, while they were in prostration.
UN envoy Robert Serry warned that "mounting tensions present a real
risk of destabilization."
This week also the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate organized a
sit-in strike to protest Israel’s intensified assaults against Palestinian
journalists, as several journalists were directly targeted during confrontations
between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters, Ma’an reports.
Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'neh was arrested by occupation
forces as he was returning from a visit to Jordan on Feb 16, 2013. Since
then, he has been unable to see a lawyer and his family is frantic with
worry, as they have no news of him.
UK human rights group, War on Want called on the British security
firm G4S, which provides services to the Israeli Prison Authority, to
end all dealings with the Israeli Prison Authority (IPA). G4S made the
news in October 2010 when security guards working for Heathrow Airport
killed Angolan Jimmy Mubenga aboard a British Airways flight while detaining
him for deportation. G4S signs are prominently displayed all around Meggido
Demanding that G4S "withdraws from contracts to supply Israeli prisons"
in the wake of reports of torture, War on Want campaigner Rafeef Ziadah
said: "G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons where Palestinian
political prisoners, including child prisoners, are detained and tortured.
This British company is profiting from human rights abuses against the
Palestinian people. The terrible death of Arafat Jaradat highlights the
urgent need for G4S to ends its complicity in Israel's prison system."
“79 detainees have died in prison since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa
Intifada (in September 2000) due to torture, medical neglect, excessive
use of force by the soldiers and interrogators, in addition to several
detainees who were executed by the arresting officers,” Palestinian Researcher
Abdul-Nasser Farawna stated.
Hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners held a one-day hunger
strike in solidarity with Samer Issawi and fellow long-term strikers Ayman
Sharawna, Tarek Qa’adan and Jaafar Azzidine, reports Electronic Intifada.
Two of the striking prisoners were hospitalized Thursday, according to
a spokeswoman for the Israeli Prisons Service, reports the Washington
Israel's Jerusalem magistrate court has ruled to release Palestinian
hunger striker Samer Issawi on March 6, 2013. But Issawi's case will now
be transferred to a military court which may rule to extend his imprisonment
to his complete sentence of 20 years. Activists have quoted Issawi's sister
as saying he is continuing his hunger strike in spite of the court ruling.
International Solidarity Movement reports that nine Palestinians
from Hebron, mostly family members of hunger-striking prisoners, are on
hunger strike to express support for, and raise awareness of, the plight
of Palestinian political prisoners:
“They began their strike last Saturday, and gained much media attention
thanks to their presence in a solidarity tent in Hebron in the midst of
Monday’s demonstration in support of prisoners.”
Teacher Nahil Abu Aisha from Hebron explained, “The whole world
needs to know what’s going on here.”
Meanwhile, the lawyer for Dirar Abu Sisi, the technical director
at Gaza’s sole electricity plant, who was kidnapped in Ukraine in 2011
and is currently held in solitary confinement in Israel, is “losing his
ability to recall language and has speech impairments, a lawyer who visited
him in jail said Sunday,” Ma’an reported.
Abu Sisi was the only prisoner excluded from a May 2012 deal with
Israeli authorities to end solitary confinement, according to prisoners
rights group Addameer. The deal, which included several terms to improve
prisoners conditions, was made to end an earlier mass hunger strike campaign
launched by Palestinian prisoners.
The worsening condition of the prisoners has brought expressions
of concern this week from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the European
Union. US president Barack Obama is due to visit Israel and the West Bank
next month, largely as a result of European pressure.