Prisoner's death raises fear of new West Bank revolt

2013-02-25T00:00:00Z Prisoner's death raises fear of new West Bank revoltThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

RAMALLAH, West Bank - The mysterious death of a 30-year-old Palestinian gas station attendant in Israeli custody stoked new West Bank clashes Sunday, along with Israeli fears of a third Palestinian uprising.

A senior Palestinian official alleged that Arafat Jaradat was tortured by Israel's Shin Bet security service, citing an autopsy he said revealed bruising and two broken ribs.

Israel's Health Ministry said the autopsy did not conclusively determine the cause of death, but that the bruising and broken ribs were likely the result of attempts to revive the detainee.

Jaradat's death came at a time of rising West Bank tensions, including several days of Palestinian marches in support of four hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli lockups. In all, Israel holds nearly 4,600 Palestinians, including dozens who have never been formally charged.

Frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the recent re-election of Israeli hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Palestinian cash crisis and the Palestinians' sense of being abandoned by the Arab world seem to have created fertile ground for a third Palestinian revolt.

Over the weekend, Israel's army chief convened senior commanders to discuss the growing unrest.

Jaradat's death "is liable to become the opening shot" in a third uprising, Israeli military commentator Alex Fishman wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily Sunday, arguing that the "Palestinian street has been boiling with anger for a number of weeks now."

However, Israeli officials have previously expressed concern about a new uprising, only to see bursts of Palestinian protests fizzle.

The first uprising, marked by stone-throwing protests and commercial strikes, erupted in the late 1980s and led to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The second uprising broke out in 2000, after failed talks on a final peace deal, and it was far deadlier, with Israel reoccupying the West Bank after bombings and shootings.

In recent years, the West Bank has been relatively calm. Despite recent tensions, the Palestinian self-rule government has not broken off security coordination with Israel in their joint campaign against Islamic militants.

Palestinian activists also say they learned from the mistakes of the armed revolt a decade ago and are turning to more creative protests against Israel's 45-year rule over lands they want for a future state.

Former Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub, speaking in Hebrew on Israel Radio, tried to reassure Israelis, declaring Sunday "on behalf of the entire Palestinian leadership that there is no plan to lead to bloodshed."

Jaradat, a father of two from the West Bank village of Saeer, died in Megiddo Prison in northern Israel on Saturday, six days after his arrest on suspicion of stone throwing.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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