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Israel kills prisoner, sparking anger throughout Palestine

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By John Space - February 25, 2013
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Photos by Lazar Simeonov.

After two weeks of growing protests in support of hunger striker Samer Issawi, Palestinians were given a new cause for anger when prisoner Arafat Jaradat died in Israeli custody inside Megiddo prison. 

The Palestinian Authority stated Jaradat was tortured to death, which was verified by Saber Aloul, the doctor who was present at Jaradat's autopsy and saw the beating marks on his body. 

Arrested on February 18, Jaradat was first taken to the Jalameh interrogation prison complex before being transferred to Megiddo prison. His court session on February 21 resulted in an extension in his interrogation for a further 12 days. Two days later, Jaradat was pronounced dead. He leaves behind his three year old daughter Yara, two year old son Mohammad, and his wife Dalal who is four months pregnant with their third child.

Jaradat's funeral, held Monday, February 25th in his hometown of Sa'ir, was attended by tens of thousands of Palestinians. Simultaneous demonstrations took place throughout the West Bank, including a demonstration in Hebron planned months in advance to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the massacre in Ibrahimi mosque. Thousands also attended a demonstration in Gaza on Sunday.

The recent wave of protests, many of which have been met with a violent response from the Israeli army, have inspired speculation that the Third Intifada is beginning. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, attended Jaradat's funeral and told Israeli newspaper Maariv that the third intifada began the day of the funeral. Dr. Barghouti said Israel is deliberately provoking violence among Palestinians and vowed, "We won't let Israel create chaos in the West Bank."

When we choose violence, it's actually a reaction of Israel's violence.They are killing us and it's a normal reaction for us to react like this in a violent way, because they did that, they started it

Numerous media outlets have also predicted the third intifada may start as a result of Israel's murder of Jaradat, although Israeli security forces deny this is a possibility. 

Hakim, a student of Palestine Polytechnic University who attended the funeral, said he believes it's likely the third intifada is coming.

"When we choose violence, it's actually a reaction of their [Israel's] violence. And it's nothing compared to their violence. If you now look to their religious Jews, the settlers, in Nablus they cut the trees. They also come in Beit Anoun near Hebron and cut the trees and they attacked Palestinian people. So they are really violent," he said. "They are killing us and it's a normal reaction for us to react like this in a violent way, because they did that, they started it."

Mohammad, another demonstrator, said he hopes for social change inside the Palestinian borders before the third intifada begins. 

"Honestly, I'm not hoping to have a third intifada for now. Since we still have the Palestinian Authority and they will only make us struggle and sacrifice our lives, and our freedom, and our dignity, and our houses," he said. "We need to have a new leadership for the new intifada."

Still, he said, the Palestinian people gave a remarkable display of unity at Jaradat's funeral. 

"People came from all over the West Bank, the 1948 territories, there are many officials here also.  All Palestinians are participating here," he said. "Whatever their party, whether Fateh or Hamas or PFLP or DFLP, there is a unity in Palestine."

Hakim said he doesn't believe Israel killed Jaradat on purpose, but that it makes little difference since he was tortured to death. 

"I don't think they planned to kill him like this. But maybe, because they torture him, he died," Hakim said. "Now the Palestinian street has been angry [at Israel's treatment] of Samer Issawi's hunger strike. And now Israel killed Arafat, so what do they want? They want to humiliate us more and more, until when? We will not be silent anymore."




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