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Over 4,000 prisoners launch hunger strike in Israeli jails

Feb. 24, 2013 10:02 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 25, 2013 5:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Some 4,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched hunger-strike action on Sunday to protest the death of Arafat Jaradat, who died in Israel's Megido jail a day earlier.

A spokeswoman for Israel's Prison Authority told Ma'an that around 4,500 prisoners in Israeli jails are refusing food from prison authorities.

Arafat Jadarat, 30, died on Saturday in the Israeli jail of Megido, allegedly from a cardiac arrest.

Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet, said in a statement that during an interrogation on Thursday Jadarat was examined "numerous times" by a doctor and no health problems were found so the procedure continued.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees Issa Qaraqe said 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."

According to Shin Bet, Jadarat suffered from 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.

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

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad expressed his "deep sorrow and shock" over Jadarat's death, calling on Israel to hold an immediate inquiry.

The international community must pressure Israel to abide by international law and release all prisoners held under administrative detention, he said, adding that detaining Palestinians in jails inside Israel is a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

PA ministry of detainees official Ziad Abu Ein said Saturday that the ministry would request that a Palestinian doctor 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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