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Hundreds rally in Gaza, West Bank over Israeli jail death

Feb. 24, 2013 12:40 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 25, 2013 6:29 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of people rallied in the Gaza Strip and West Bank on Sunday to condemn the death of a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces and protestors clashed in Hebron, Beit Ummar, al-Arrub refugee camp, and Tulkarem, with soldiers firing tear gas and sound grenades at demonstrators, locals said.

Palestinian factions in Gaza launched solidarity marches to condemn Jadarat's death, Ma'an's correspondent said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that "hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and burned tires in Hebron, and security personnel responded with riot dispersal means."

One man was injured by rubber bullets and an Israeli soldier was injured after being hit by a rock, military sources said.

In Beit Ummar between 100-300 people threw stones at Israeli forces and in Beituniya around 50 people gathered, the spokeswoman added.

In al-Arrub, one man was lightly injured after Israeli forces used live fire, Israeli military sources said.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees Issa Qaraqe told a press conference Sunday that mass popular protests are in direct response to what the Israeli occupation is doing.

"This intifada does not need a decision. It comes automatically in response to what the Israeli occupation is doing against us. If President Obama wants to visit the area quietly, he has to pressure Israel to release prisoners, especially hunger strikers," Qaraqe said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that the PA halt all popular protests and calm the situation, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

The Israeli premier also ordered the release of January tax revenues to the PA, which Israel has withheld since November as punishment for the UN's acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state.

PLO official Nabil Shaath said in a statement that the Palestinian leadership does not want a third intifada, but "what Israel is doing will drag the region into a bloody cycle of violence."

"No one in the Palestinian leadership plans for third Intifada, but what Israel is doing makes Palestinians angry," Shaath said.

He added: "No one can predict what will happen, or whether we can control the situation in the Palestinian field."

Arafat Jadarat, 30, died in Israeli custody on Saturday, allegedly from a cardiac arrest.

Qaraqe, the prisoners minister, said Jadarat died after being tortured during interrogation by Israeli forces and demanded an international investigation into interrogation techniques used by Israel.

He said 71 Palestinians had died from torture during Israeli interrogations since 1967.

Over 4,000 Palestinian prisoners launched hunger strike action on Sunday in protest over the incident.
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