Palestinian prisoner Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat died in Megiddo Prison of an apparent heart attack Saturday, according to Israeli prison services spokeswoman Sivan Weizman.
Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, said in a statement to reporters that Jaradat, 30, was arrested on Feb. 18 after residents in his West Bank village of Saeer said he was involved in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli citizen. Jaradat admitted to the charge, as well to another West Bank rock-throwing incident last year, the Shin Bet said.
Jaradat suffered from back pain and had been injured in the past by a rubber bullet and tear gas canister, the Shin Bet said. But he was examined a few times by a doctor who detected no health problems, and his interrogation continued, the agency said.
After lunch on Saturday, Jaradat fell ill, and medics were unable to resuscitate him. A Shin Bet spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with protocol, said Jaradat was not beaten during his interrogation, nor did he undertake any physical activities that might have led to a worsening of his health.
Weizman said Jaradat, who was arrested last week, had not been on hunger strike.
Still, his death is likely to enrage Palestinians at time when they have been stepping up demonstrations in protest of Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners, especially four long-time hunger-strikers, including one whose health is rapidly deteriorating.
Demonstrators are principally demanding the release of hunger-striking prisoners Samer Issawi, Ayman Sharawneh, Tareq Qaadan, and Jafar Azzidine. Issawi has been on hunger strike for over 200 days.
Issawi and Sharawneh were previously jailed for long prison sentences for terrorist activities, but were released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange deal that secured the freedom of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Both men were since re-arrested for violating the terms of their release. Issawi – whose original convictions included attempted murder, for actions including opening fire on an Israel bus with an AK47 – was sentenced to eight months for the violation on Thursday.
Israeli police have opened an investigation into the prisoner’s death, the Shin Bet statement said.
The Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer announced that Palestinian prisoners would go on a one-day hunger strike to commemorate their dead comrade.
On Saturday night, Israeli media reported that defense establishment officials had invited the Palestinian Authority to take part in Jaradat’s post-mortem examination.