West Bank violence intensifies after death of Palestinian prisoner

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Violence continued throughout the West Bank this week, following the funeral of a Palestinian prisoner who died while in Israeli custody.

Arafat Jaradat, 30, was buried with military honors Feb. 25 in a village near Hebron in a funeral attended by thousands of Palestinians, according to reports. He died Feb. 23 in the Megiddo jail in northern Israel days after being arrested for participating in attacks on Israelis.

During the funeral, a 13-year-old boy from the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem was injured by a bullet fired by Israeli troops, Palestinian sources told Israeli media. A 16-year-old sustained a head injury.

Palestinians protest construction of a four-lane highway being built through the village of Beit Safafa, Jerusalem. photo/jns.org-flash90-yonatan sindel

An Israeli soldier and an Israeli teen reportedly were injured by rocks thrown by rioters.

The day after the funeral, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers continued in and near Hebron, Nablus and several West Bank villages.

Following an autopsy on Jaradat by an Israeli doctor, Palestinian officials said he died from being tortured. Israel’s Health Ministry said in a statement that no signs of trauma, apart from those pertaining to resuscitation attempts, were found on the body, and that no evidence of disease was found. The coroner is waiting for microscopic and toxicology reports to determine the exact cause of death, according to the statement.

Israeli authorities said Jaradat was known to suffer from back pains and other maladies arising from previous clashes with Israeli troops, Haaretz said.

News of his death prompted the announcement of a three-day hunger strike by Palestinians in Israeli prisons, as well as clashes throughout the West Bank.

The latest conflict followed days of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank regarding Palestinian prisoners, some held without trial for years under administrative detention. Israeli prison officials are still dealing with the ongoing hunger strike of two security prisoners and two administrative detainees.

The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem has limited official travel to the West Bank by government personnel and suspended personal travel to Bethlehem due to the demonstrations.The consulate statement issued Feb. 25 also advised U.S. citizens to “defer non-essential travel to and within the West Bank and to exercise an extra measure of caution during this period.” — jta & ynetnews.com