Prisoner’s death stokes fears of third uprising
By Karin Laub, AP, Feb 24, 2013
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP)—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.
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.
Recent West Bank protests have focused on the fate of prisoners, an emotional Palestinian consensus issue.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been imprisoned since Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in 1967, meaning virtually every Palestinian family has had someone locked up.
The detainees are held on a range of charges, from stone-throwing to deadly attacks. Most Palestinians embrace them as heroes resisting occupation, while Israelis tend to view them as terrorists.