No peace without freedom for Palestinian political prisoners: Abbas

Ahram Online , Friday 1 Mar 2013

Without freedom for Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jail there can be no 'peace or stability', says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
A masked Palestinian holding a weapon atop a roof during the funeral of Arafat Jaradat in the West Bank village of Sa’ir, Feb. 25, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority (PA) members have met the family of Arafat Jaradat, who died on Saturday after allegedly being tortured in an Israeli jail.

Abbas said the Middle East will see "no peace or stability" unless Israel releases all Palestinian prisoners, pointing out that some prisoners have spent more than 25 years in jail, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported Thursday.

"The PA is exerting intensified efforts to end their [Palestinian prisoners] suffering. We call on the United Nations to form an international investigation committee on Jaradat's death, as we insist on knowing the complete truth," Abbas stated.

On Monday, Israel demanded the PA act "responsibly" and rein in unrest, as Palestinian prisoners vowed revenge over the death of Jaradat, allegedly after being tortured.

Jaradat's death sparked violence in the West Bank city of Hebron, his hometown, along with calls for Palestinian Premier Salam Fayyad to order a full inquiry.

Fayyad’s office issued a statement on Sunday expressing its deep sorrow and shock over "the martyrdom of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in Israeli occupation prisons."

"We affirm the need to promptly disclose the true reasons that led to his martyrdom," the statement added.

The Gaza-based Hamas movement announced that Jaradat had died from “the inhumane condition inside Israeli jails.”

"Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to act responsibly to prevent incitement and violence which will only exacerbate the situation," a spokesman for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, told AFP.

According to AFP, Israel's Shin Bet internal intelligence service said Jaradat had been arrested the previous Monday for his involvement in a stone-throwing incident in November 2012 during which an Israeli had been wounded.

"After lunch [on Saturday], as he was resting in Megiddo prison, Arafat Jaradat was taken ill. Medics were called to treat him but they were unable to save his life," it added.

The intelligence service said Jaradat had back aches and previous injuries, one to the left leg from rubber bullets and one to the stomach from a tear gas canister.

He had been examined several times by a doctor, "who did not find any medical problem," Shin Bet said.

Israeli police are probing Jaradat's death, it added.

The future of Palestinian prisoners, especially those on hunger strike, such as Samer Issawi and Ayman El-Sharawna, have sparked protests across the Palestinian territories, causing a further deterioration in already tense relations with Israel.

Israeli media reported that security officials had invited the Palestinian Authority to be present on Sunday for his autopsy.

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