West Bank violence flares over man's death

Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 00:00

Israel has asked the Palestinian Authority to act to stop a wave of violence in the West Bank that erupted after the death in Israeli detention of a Palestinian prisoner.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops yesterday. Palestinian protesters hurled stones at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Clashes were particularly fierce in the Hebron region, in the southern West Bank, where the home village of the dead prisoner is situated.

The funeral of Arafat Jaradat (30) will take place today in his Hebron-area village. Tension was already high after radical Jews announced plans today to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s old city, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, to coincide with the Jewish festival of Purim.

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons yesterday refused food to protest against the death of Mr Jaradat in the Megiddo jail in northern Israel.

Israel claimed he died of a heart attack but relatives and Palestinian officials claimed he was beaten to death by Israeli interrogators. An autopsy by Israeli doctors in the presence of Palestinian medical officials was inconclusive.

Violence has been increasing in the West Bank in recent months, partly fuelled by the long-term hunger strike by four prisoners.

Yitzhak Molcho, the diplomatic envoy of prime minister–designate Binyamin Netanyahu, contacted senior Palestinian Authority officials asking them to curtail the protests across the West Bank.

Israel also authorised the release of €76 million in Palestinian taxes to bolster the Palestinian Authority. Israeli troops are concerned violence could develop into a third Palestinian intifada. Some Israeli officials accused the Palestinian leadership of fanning the flames ahead of Barack Obama’s visit next month.