Arafat Jaradat: detained 18 February on suspicion of throwing stones, died in Megiddo Prison on 23 February, buried today

The funeral today in Sa’ir village, near Hebron, of Arafat Jaradat, who was beaten badly when detained near his home on 18 February — and whose lawyer saw him showing pain, fear and anxiety in court on 21 February — and who then died on 23 February.

This photo, taken by Yotam Ronen for Activestills, is posted in a slideshow published here:

Funeral of Arafat Jaradat who died in Megiddo jail on 23 February [after 5 days of detention]

Another photo shows Arafat Jaradat’s body minutes before the funeral – photo by Oren Ziv for Activestills, published in the same slideshow.

The body of Arafat Jaradat minutes before his funeral
The body of Arafat Jaradat minutes before his funeral

Addameer Prisoner Support organization, a Ramallah-based NGO, reported that the Israeli Army “and the Shin Bet arrested the martyr Arafat Jaradat (30 years old) from his home in the small town of Sa’eer, near Al-Khalil (Hebron) at midnight on 18 February 2013, with claims that he threw stones at cars from a nearby settlement. Arafat was transferred to Jalameh Interrogation Center in the northern West Bank before being transferred to Megiddo Prison. Mr. Kamil Sabbagh, Arafat’s lawyer from the Ministry of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoner’s Affairs who defended him in a court hearing at Jalameh on 21 February 2013, reported that Arafat was subjected to torture during his interrogation, including being forced to sit for long hours in stress positions with his hands shackled behind his back. Arafat suffered from pain in his back, and therefore, during the court hearing on 21 February, his lawyer requested that he be given a health examination due to the severe conditions that he was detained under. Despite this, the judge ruled to extend his detention for a further twelve days, reducing the prosecution’s request of a fifteen day extension by only three days. The judge also ordered that the medical officials in the interrogation center examine his psychological and physical health and to report the results to the Shin Bet and the court. Two days later, on Saturday 23 February 2013, it was learned that Arafat Jaradat had passed away in a special section for the Shin Bet in Megiddo Prison, under conditions which are still unclear”.   This report is published here

An autopsy was performed on Sunday at the Abu Kabir institute near Tel Aviv.  There is no final autopsy report, yet.  Palestinian officials were present at the autopsy — a first. Reuters reported here that “The Palestinian Authority state pathologist [Dr. Saber Al Aloul] was present at the autopsy on Jaradat’s body, which was carried out in Israel”. The Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqa’a and Palestinian Prisoners’ Society head Qaddoura Fares said at a press conference in Ramallah Sunday evening that Arafat Jaradat appeared to have been tortured, and most likely died of shock.  They said there was no sign that Jaradat had a heart attack.  Hours later, under pressure, the Israeli Government Health Ministry issued a statement saying: “This afternoon (Sunday, 24 February 2013), at the National Center for Forensic Medicine, an autopsy was performed on the body of Arafat Jaradat by Prof. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of Prof. Arnon Afek, Director of the Health Administration at the Ministry of Health, and Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Aloul. During the autopsy, no signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest. No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy. Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest. Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts. The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death. At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings”.

Reuters also reported that “An Israeli police spokesman said the investigation into Jaradat’s death was still ongoing”. This is posted here.

Whatever the cause of Arafat Jaradat’s death, Israeli military court in Jalameh allowed continued interrogation after he admitted charges of stone-throwing, and after his lawyer told the military court judge that Jaradat seemed fearful and unwell.

Even after Arafat Jaradat admitted stone-throwing charges [certainly by the hearing at which his lawyer was present on 21 February], and even after the warnings from Jaradat’s attorney, the judge ordered interrogation continued for 12 days. But, Jaradat died.

What possible justification can there be for allowing Arafat Jaradat’s interrogation to continue beyond his admission of charge against him?

Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz today, here, that everyday, dozens of Palestinians if not hundreds start down the same path — although most of them do not die.   But “from the Palestinian perspective, every stop on the road of detention and interrogation involves enormous physical and psychological pain that the army, the police, the Shin Bet and the prison service inflict intentionally. This goes well beyond the suffering that should be caused by taking away a person’s liberty and issuing an indictment. For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture. Jaradat was not a ticking bomb. He was arrested on suspicion of throwing stones and an incendiary device at Israeli targets. After three days of interrogation the police asked the court (in the name of the Shin Bet) to extend his remand for another 15 days for questioning … Experience shows that the additional days of interrogation – many, considering the minor nature of the offenses – were not intended merely to extract more confessions, but to get Jaradat to implicate others or to gather personal information, even of an embarrassing nature, to use in the future. From reports by detainees to their attorneys, it’s clear that sleep deprivation combined with painful and prolonged handcuffing is very common. As we learn at military court and elsewhere, people confess to things they haven’t done or implicate others falsely, only to be allowed to sleep … The Palestinians do not need an Israeli investigation. For them, Jaradat’s death is much bigger than the tragedy he and his family have suffered. From their experience, Jaradat’s death isn’t proof that others haven’t died, it’s proof that the Israeli system routinely uses torture. From their experience, the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people”.

The Palestinian Government Media Center [which reports to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad] sent this by email on 24 February: In a memorandum delivered to the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Arafat Jaradat’s attorney, Kmeil Sabbagh, describes the last court hearing of the late detainee Arafat and his health and psychological conditions.

Below is a translation of the memorandum:

· Date of court hearing: 21/2/2013

· Happenings of the hearing: Police asked to extend Arafat Jaradat’s detention for 15 days and the judge extended his detention for 12 days for interrogation.

· Date of the upcoming court hearing: 4/3/2013 in Al Jalameh.

Note: The detainee works in a gas station and he was detained on suspicion of throwing stones and fire bombs at Israeli targets as well activity against the security of the area. The detainee told me that he admitted to throwing stones once in 2012 and once before in 2006 and that he denies all other reported suspicions. When I asked him if anyone was injured from his stone-throwing, he said he does not know but he thinks that no one was hit.

The prisoner entered the court room and sat on a wooden chair, in front of the judge, I sat next to him, his back was bent, he looked tired and scared; I asked if he was ok, he said that he’s suffering from sharp pain in the back and other parts of his body as he was interrogated for several hours.

Afterwards, I questioned the police investigator; I summed up what I wanted to say and directly asked him about Arafat’s health conditions and that he was suffering from back pain since he was arrested and interrogated for several hours, which caused his back pain and other aches and that his detention conditions are not appropriate.

The judge said that the health conditions of the prisoner have been addressed in a secret report that was presented to him by the police.

While the judge was writing the court’s decision, I turned to Arafat and tried to clarify the judge’s decision. When he realized that the judge will extend his detention, signs of fear started to appear on his face; he asked if he will stay in the cell in the upcoming days, I answered that this was a possibility or that he could be transferred to another place, but that in any case he will continue to be interrogated and that I could not do anything, that where he could stay during the interrogation process was beyond my control.

From the last conversation I had with Arafat Jaradat, it was clear to me that his psychological condition wasn’t stable and that he was suffering from high levels of anxiety and fear. Therefore, I asked the judge to add additional statements to the court session about Arafat’s psychological condition and after I was allowed by the military judge I said:

“The defense attorney asks the court’s permission to submit a claim about the ‘suspect’s’ psychological conditions during his stay in solitary confinement and impresses the defense’s fear of psychological injury. The attorney asks that this issue be addressed and that the detainee be given the needed care.”

The judge then announced his decision: “The court asks the prison’s doctor to check on the detainee’s health, physical and psychological conditions and provide appropriate instructions to interrogation authorities as well as provide proper treatment.”

Court’s decision was to remand the detainee for additional 12 days, on Thursday 21/2/2013, at 10:00 am, as documented in the hearing report.

According to the lawyer, the police interrogator confirmed that there were no additional allegations or suspicions besides those listed above”.

Ma’an News Agency reported here much stronger language from Arafat Jaradat’s lawyer than that in text of memo sent by Palestinian Govt Media Center [Ma’an pparently usedg a different translation…?] According to Ma’an: Jaradat’s lawyer said his client reported having ‘serious pains in his back + other parts of his body” because “he was beaten up + ‘hanged’ for hours”. Ma’an said Jaradat’s lawyer “informed the judge his client had been tortured”.

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