International body may assist in prisoner death probe

International body may assist in prisoner death probe

Internal Security Minister Aharanovitch tells the Knesset the step is possible; investigation findings expected within days

Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat (photo credit: image capture from Channel 2)
Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat (photo credit: image capture from Channel 2)

Israel is exploring the possibility of allowing an international body to help investigate the death of a Palestinian inmate last weekend.

Internal Security Minister MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch alluded to the possibility during a Knesset hearing Wednesday, a day after the Palestinian Authority and the UN called for an international probe of Arafat Jaradat’s death.

Jaradat, 30, died of an apparent heart attack Saturday afternoon in Megiddo Prison, according to Prison Services spokeswoman Sivan Weizman, but the Palestinian Authority claims Jaradat was tortured to death.

The Abu Kabir Forensic Institute is expected to announce its findings in the investigation into Jaradat’s death within a few days.

Jaradat’s death sparked clashes between Palestinians and Israelis around the West Bank. The protests calmed down after his funeral Monday.

On Tuesday, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman urged a prompt investigation and called for the results to be “made public as soon as possible.”

“The United Nations underscores the importance of restoring and maintaining calm,” Feltman told the Security Council. He expressed “particular concern” over “the deteriorating health of four prisoners who have engaged in extended hunger strike” in Israeli jails – a strike that had already rallied some supporters in the West Bank to demonstrate.

Jaradat’s family members have claimed they saw bloodstains on his body after they went to identify his remains at Israel’s main forensics institute on Sunday morning. They said they didn’t believe he had died of natural causes.

Israel’s Health Ministry issued a statement saying no visible signs of violence were detected on Jaradat’s body, aside from those made by resuscitation efforts and a small graze on his chest.

“Two internal bleeds 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,” read the statement. “At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.”

The autopsy’s official findings will be forwarded in two weeks to the PA and to Israel’s international criminal investigation unit. After the inspection, Jaradat’s body was handed over to his family for burial.

Times of Israel staff and AP contributed to this report

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