After a day of unrest, which some Palestinian leaders called the beginning of the Third Intifada, the Israeli press tries to get a grip on the increasingly unstable situation in the West Bank. Like the forensics investigators in Abu Kabir, the press seeks the truth surrounding the death of a Palestinian inmate in an Israeli jail.
Violent riots erupted across the West Bank on Sunday after the death of Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat, a 30-year-old prisoner at Megiddo Prison, the day before. Maariv notes that 26 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops on Sunday. One was injured by live fire, it quotes Palestinian sources as saying.
Yedioth Ahronoth writes that the Americans have contacted the Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to return calm to the West Bank, and writes that Secretary of State John Kerry is involved in the diplomatic efforts.
The paper also mentions the hunger strike by 4,500 Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons as a result of Jaradat’s death. According to the Israeli Prison Service, they will only address the issue of mass hunger strikes after 48 hours, because the prisoners often hoard extra food in their cells.
As for Jaradat’s autopsy, Maariv recounts that, according to the Palestinians, the findings proved that “Israel lied when it claimed that the cause of death was cardiac arrest.” A Palestinian prisoners rights group announced that the “cause of death was severe torture that Jaradat underwent,” the paper says.
Abu Kabir announced, however, that during the autopsy no signs of external bruising were found, aside from the signs of attempted resuscitation and a small scratch on the right side of his chest. The institute said on Sunday that the findings could not determine the cause of Jaradat’s death.
Israel Hayom writes that the autopsy was conducted by Professor Yehuda Hiss and Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Alul. The paper downplays the significance of the Palestinian protests in the West Bank, quoting Israeli security officials as saying it is not the beginning of the Third Intifada.
“The Israeli security establishment emphasizes that the Palestinian street is waiting for [US President Barack] Obama’s visit, and the estimation is that if the visit doesn’t yield ‘significant results’ in terms of the Palestinians, it will likely spark unrest,” it reports.
Security officials told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the estimation at the moment is that a third intifada is not expected,” the paper declares. It writes that, despite this, one of the extreme scenarios that the IDF presented was that the Palestinian Authority loses control because of the riots and that Hamas forces take advantage of the situation and move in.
Amira Hass adds additional pieces of the puzzle in Haaretz and accuses the Israeli security forces of torturing Palestinian inmates, according to international standards. “From reports by detainees to their attorneys, it’s clear that sleep deprivation combined with painful and prolonged handcuffing is very common,” she says. Those methods, and solitary confinement, were used on Jaradat, she writes, adding that he also suffered from a herniated disk in his back.
“The investigation of Jaradat’s death must go through all phases of his detention and interrogation — and those of thousands of others. But any interrogation will be flawed from the outset because, by authorization of the High Court of Justice, Shin Bet interrogations are not filmed,” she writes.
“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,” she says. “From their experience, the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people.”
Haaretz writes that the human rights organization B’Tselem has called for an investigation into Jaradat’s death, and that the Civil Administration issued entry permits for his family so they could collect his remains for burial. Whether or not the situation on the ground will evolve into an intifada is not a binary situation of yes or no, Chaim Levinson writes.
“There is also an in-between situation of a wave of additional protests among the Palestinian public on the basis of disappointment from a lack of diplomatic progress, the economic crisis, signs of the PA’s collapse, and public enthusiasm for Hamas’s achievements in Gaza in the past 12 years,” he writes. He says the estimation in the IDF is that in 2013 either the PA will collapse or there will be a political breakthrough.
Dan Margalit writes in Israel Hayom that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is interested in stirring up unrest ahead of Obama’s visit next month for political gain.
“… Abbas chose to ride on the back of a tiger, and is likely to lose control of his conduct. There are members of the PA who are interested in renewing the violence and they back Hamas supporters in the West Bank,” he writes.
“Returning calm until the establishment of an Israeli government and the American president’s visit is the correct interest of moderates on both sides,” he concludes.
Maariv, too, writes that the Israeli security establishment believes the latest unrest is aimed at “causing Obama to change the priorities of his visit and to raise the issue of the Palestinians in general, and the prisoners in particular, to the top of the agenda of the presidential visit.”
Alex Fishman writes in Yedioth Ahronoth that Israel must take steps to regain the trust of the Palestinians, rather than make empty gestures to ameliorate the situation. He says that releasing tax money to the Palestinian leadership will not quell the anger on the Palestinian street, and calls on the Israeli government to take steps to appease the populace — rather than the leadership — if it wants to stem the tide of a third intifada.
He also calls on the government to adopt an “iron fist” approach to right-wing extremists in the West Bank who break the law and incite unrest. “A move like this will show the Palestinians that Israel seriously intends to impose its authority in the area,” he writes.