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Israel returns Jaradat's body to Hebron

Feb. 24, 2013 7:30 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 26, 2013 12:44 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israel on Sunday returned the body of 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat who died in Megiddo prison a day earlier.

Jaradat's body was transferred to the Palestinian Red Crescent at the Tarqumiya crossing west of Hebron, and taken to the Al-Ahli Hospital. He will be buried on Monday in his hometown Sair.

A Palestinian doctor and a legal team from the PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs were present at an autopsy conducted in Israel on Sunday.

The results of the autopsy have yet to be announced, but Jaradat's family, who have viewed his body, said there were traces of blood on him. They rejected Israeli claims that he died of a heart attack.

Lawyer Kameel Sabbagh says Jaradat was tortured by Israeli interrogators.

Sabbagh, who works for the prisoners ministry, was present at Jaradat's last hearing on Thursday, which an Israeli judge postponed for 12 days.

"When I entered the courtroom I saw Jaradat sitting on a wooden chair in front of the judge. His back was hunched and he looked sick and fragile," Sabbagh said in a statement Sunday.

"When I sat next to him he told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated

"When Jaradat heard that the judge postponed his hearing he seemed extremely afraid and asked me if he was going to spend the time left in the cell. I replied to him that he was still in the investigation period and this is possible and that as a lawyer I couldn't do anything about his whereabouts at this time."

Sabbagh said in a statement that Jaradat's psychological state was very serious and that he informed the judge his client had been tortured. The judge ordered that Jaradat should be examined by the prison doctor but "this didn't happen," the lawyer added.

The Ministry of Detainee Affairs said Israeli interrogators used hanging techniques and sleep deprivation to torture Jaradat in al-Jalameh prison, a day before he died in Megiddo prison.

On Sunday, thousands of Palestinians protested the death across the West Bank and Gaza, and at least two protesters were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli forces, including the 13-year-old son of a Preventive Security officer.

Dozens more were injured by rubber-coated bullets.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers used riot dispersal means against Palestinians hurling rocks at security forces.

Israel on Sunday demanded the Palestinian Authority stem the protests ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to the region next month.

"Israel has conveyed to the Palestinian Authority an unequivocal demand to calm the territory," an Israeli government official said, adding the message was delivered by one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top aides.

A senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas gave no indication the PA, which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, would issue any call for calm, and blamed Israel for the spike in unrest.

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