Autopsy finds no signs of violence on Palestinian inmate’s body

Preliminary investigation of Arafat Jaradat’s remains uncovers no indication of poison or foul play, contradicting claims of Palestinian pathologist

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

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

The preliminary results of Arafat Jaradat’s autopsy reveal no signs of violence or poisoning, Israeli pathologists revealed Thursday, contradicting previous statements by a Palestinian doctor who attended the procedure.

Jaradat died on Saturday of what Israeli officials said was a heart attack while imprisoned at Megiddo Prison, but the Palestinian Authority was quick to lay the blame at Israel’s feet, following the report of a Palestinian pathologist who attended the Sunday autopsy and determined Jaradat had been tortured to death and had not died of cardiac arrest.

A team of Israeli doctors headed by Professor Yehuda Hiss of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, Professor Arnon Afek, the Health Ministry’s Director of Health Administration, and Professor Iris Barshack, chief pathologist at the Sheba Medical Center, reported based on an examination of microscopic remains from the late Jaradat’s body that “no evidence was found of poisoning and no evidence was found of physical violence.”

According to a statement by the Health Ministry, Jaradat’s internal bleeding and fractured bones were characteristic of the 50 minutes of resuscitation attempts made by prison staff and emergency response staff to save his life.

The forensic institute will continue to conduct examinations in order to determine Jaradat’s cause of death.

Israel on Wednesday said it was 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 Jaradat’s death.

Palestinian protests in the West Bank flared up on Sunday and Monday after the Palestinian charged Israel with torturing Jaradat to death.

Israel’s security forces braced for major demonstrations surrounding his funeral on Monday. But although there were numerous relatively low-level disturbances in the West Bank, the funeral itself passed without major incident.

The Shin Bet said Jaradat was arrested on February 18, after residents in his West Bank village of Si’ir said he was involved in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli. Jaradat confessed to the charge, as well as to another West Bank rock-throwing incident last year, the Shin Bet said.

The agency said that during interrogation, he was examined several times by a doctor who detected no health problems. On Saturday, he was in his cell and felt unwell after lunch, the agency said. “Rescue services and a doctor were alerted and treated him, but they didn’t succeed in saving his life,” the statement said.

A Shin Bet spokesman said Jaradat was not beaten during his interrogation, nor was he subjected to any treatment that could have affected his health. Jaradat died of an apparent heart attack, said Sivan Weizman of the Israel Prison Service.

Jaradat’s family and Palestinian officials alleged that he was mistreated during interrogation. Jaradat, father of a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, worked as a gas station attendant. His wife, Dalal, is pregnant, relatives said.

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