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Second autopsy confirms Arafat Jaradat was tortured to death in Israeli custody


By Claire Matsunami - April 23, 2014
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Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Arafat Jaradat]

Arafat Jaradat's family mourns during his funeral in the West Bank village of Sair, near Hebron, 25 February 2013 | Issam Rimawi/APA images

More than a year later, juridical sessions still haven't come to a final ruling regarding the death of Arafat Jaradat. The 33-year-old, arrested on 18 February 2013 for allegedly throwing rocks at cars, died in Israeli custody on 23 February 2013. Two autopsies completed since his death conclude that the cause of death was torture. 

Palestinian Human Rights organization Al Haq and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) teamed up to release a joint press release detailing the findings of leading international forensic pathologist Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci. 

According to Dr. Fincanci’s, Jaradat’s death was directly tied to the severe beatings he received while held in Israeli detention.  

Death in custody of Israel

Jaradat was initially held in the Shin Bet’s Al Jalameh interrogation prison, but was reported dead at Israel’s Megiddo Prison (where detainees are often sent after their Shin Bet interrogation is finished). 

“[Jaradat] was definitely tortured, but we don’t know who killed him.  We know he was interrogated in Jalameh and that he died under custody…. it’s clear cut that he died from violence, from torture.  We know that the beating that killed him was 1-3 days before his death, while he was in Israeli custody,” Ichai Menuchim, of the PCATI, said in an interview with the Palestine Monitor

The initial autopsy released by Israel “found that the hemorrhages and fractured ribs found during the autopsy occurred close to death and are characteristic of the resuscitation attempts that were performed on the deceased by Prison Service and MDA [Magen David Adom – Israel’s national emergency medical service] medical staff for 50 minutes in an effort to save his life.”  The medical examiner was unable to find a definitive cause of death, and described no evidence of torture.  

Two autopsies confirm death by torture

However, an autopsy completed by a team headed by Dr.Saber Al Aloul on 24 February 2013, the day after Jaradat died, found the “presence of strong and excessive bruising,” 3 broken ribs, and “severely congested” lungs, indicating that “all bruises (injuries) are very recent and strong resulting from direct intensive torture.” The cause of death was ruled, “nervous shock as a result of extreme pain from the intensity of the injuries described above, which resulted from multiple direct and extensive torture.” The autopsy report was originally published by the Middle East Post.

Dr. Korur Fincanci, an internationally renowned forensic pathologist, completed a more recent autopsy. Palestine Monitor was able to obtain access to the autopsy report, but legal council for the family has requested that it not be released to the public yet.  According to the report, the bruising and broken ribs were “not consistent with resuscitation efforts,” contrary to the Israeli report.  The cause of death was ruled, “blunt trauma on the chest resulting with lung contusion and acute respiratory distress syndrome.” 

According to all three autopsies, Jaradat was healthy before entering prison, and had no heart or lung problems, said Ishai Menuchim of PCATI.

Radio Silence

Since Al Haq and PCATI released their statement, the issue has received almost no media attention. According to Ichai Menuchim, there is a curious lack of attention being paid to Jaradat’s case. “I talked with every paper, TV channel, radio station, and no body did anything about it.  Journalists approached the Minister of Justice who told them not to publish anything, even though no juridical order exists.” 

Reports of torture within Israeli detention facilities is nothing new, and many deaths that have occurred in Israeli prisons over the past several decades are suspected to have come about due to similar processes of torture. The joint press release on Jaradat’s death explicates that, “Torture is not a criminal offense under the Israeli criminal code and to date no criminal investigations have ever been opened in cases involving allegations of torture.” In fact, only one other case of torture in Israeli prisons has been medically confirmed: the 1995 death of Abd al-Samet in a Shin Bet facility. 

“This is a smoking gun,” said Menuchim.  “Someone died from torture, we need to do something.” 

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