BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An autopsy has revealed that Arafat Jaradat died of extreme torture in Israeli custody and did not have a cardiac arrest, the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs said Sunday.
At a news conference in Ramallah, Issa Qaraqe said an autopsy conducted in Israel in the presence of Palestinian officials revealed that 30-year-old Jaradat had six broken bones in his neck, spine, arms and legs.
"The information we have received so far is shocking and painful. The evidence corroborates our suspicion that Mr. Jaradat died as a result of torture, especially since the autopsy clearly proved that the victim's heart was healthy, which disproves the initial alleged account presented by occupation authorities that he died of a heart attack," Qaraqe said.
A spokeswoman for Israel's Prison Authority said Saturday that Jaradat had apparently died of cardiac arrest in Megiddo prison. An emergency service team had tried to resuscitate him but failed, she said.
Qaraqe described the claim as a fabrication and called for a committee to investigate those responsible for Jaradat's death.
The minister said Jaradat had sustained injuries and severe bruising in the upper right back area and severe bruises of sharp circular shape in the right chest area.
The autopsy revealed evidence of severe torture and on the muscle of the upper left shoulder, parallel to the spine in the lower neck area, and evidence of severe torture under the skin and inside the muscle of the right side of the chest. His second and third ribs in the right side of the chest were broken, Qaraqe said, and he also had injuries in the middle of the muscle in the right hand.
Jaradat's heart was in good condition and there were no signs of bruising or stroke, the minister added.
Israel's Health Ministry said the injuries found in the autopsy could have been caused by the medical emergency team's efforts to resuscitate Jaradat.
"These initial findings are not enough to determine the cause of death," the Israeli ministry said, adding that further test results were not yet in. An Israeli police spokesman said the investigation into Jaradat's death was still ongoing.
Qaraqe's deputy, Ziyad Au Ain, urged any doctors, including Israeli doctors, who doubted that Jaradat was tortured to death to view his body in Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron.
"Jaradat died due to torture and not a stroke or heart attack," he said, adding that those responsible must be sued either through Interpol or the International Criminal Court.
Palestinian Prisoners Society president Qaddura Fares added that the autopsy revealed seven injuries to the inside of Jaradat's lower lip, bruises on his face and blood on his nose.
After the autopsy, 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.
Jaradat's lawyer Kameel Sabbagh said he 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 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.
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.