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PA officials call for inquiry into Israeli jail death

Feb. 23, 2013 9:39 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 25, 2013 9:56 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority officials on Saturday demanded an international investigation into the death of a detainee who died in an Israeli jail hours earlier, with family members saying he was in good health before his arrest.

A spokeswoman for Israel's Prison Authority said that the detainee, 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat, had apparently died of cardiac arrest. An emergency service team had tried to resuscitate him but failed, she said.

"Our information was that Jaradat was being interrogated and then he died. Therefore we call for an international investigation into his death, that may have resulted from torture," Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees Issa Qaraqe said.

Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet, said in a statement that Jaradat began feeling ill after eating lunch, while he was resting, and that a police inquiry into the circumstances of his death had begun.

"During his interrogation ... on Thursday, Jaradat was examined numerous times by a doctor. No health problems were found in these examinations and the interrogation continued," the Shin Bet said.

Jaradat, according to Shin Bet, suffered from various health problems prior to his arrest, including back aches and injuries in his leg and stomach, sustained from a rubber bullet and a tear gas canister.

However, family members told Ma'an that Arafat was in good health before his arrest and did not suffer from any diseases or health conditions.

"Arafat was taken directly to a prison far from his residential area. He was taken to al-Jalama prison in the north instead of being taken as usual to interrogation centers close to his area of residence. He was held there for four days before he was transferred to Megido prison," his uncle Mousa Jaradat said.

Arafat was the father of two children, Yara, 4, and Muhammad, who is two years old.

"The whole town is sad," his uncle said.

Arafat's wife, Dalal, told Ma'an that an Israeli intelligence officer brought him back to his home minutes after being arrested and told him to bid farewell to his children.

"For that reason I was worried. My husband was detained several times before, but this time the intelligence officer talked in a bizarre way," she said.

PA ministry of detainees official Ziad Abu Ein is scheduled to meet with the family on Saturday to inform them about arrangements for delivering his body for burial.

Abu Ein said that the Ministry of Detainees would request that a Palestinian doctor representing the ministry examine the body and conduct an autopsy.

He called on the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross to take part in the examination.

Jaradat was arrested this week under suspicion he was involved in stone-throwing that had wounded an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

There are 4,743 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 178 administrative detainees, 10 women and 193 children, according to Addameer.

Reuters contributed to this report
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