Published — Tuesday 26 February 2013
Last update 26 February 2013 1:56 am
SAIR, West Bank: Militants of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, vowed yesterday to avenge the death of a prisoner they say was tortured in an Israeli jail.
“This horrific crime will not go unpunished and we promise the Zionist occupation that we will respond to this crime,” said a statement distributed to crowds at the funeral of Arafat Jaradat, while masked members of the militant group fired assault rifles into the air.
The militants were among thousands of people, many waving Fatah banners or Palestinian flags, who flocked to Sair, Jaradat’s home village near the city of Hebron in the southern West Bank, for his burial there.
“Al-Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah national liberation movement, mourns with all pride its hero, the martyr of freedom, the prisoner Arafat Jaradat,” the statement said, in reference to Jaradat’s membership of the group.
Israeli forces stayed just outside the village.
Palestinians have been staging regular protests demanding the release of prisoners, particularly several who are hunger strike, but the tensions have soared since Jaradat’s death.
On Sunday a Palestinian man was seriously wounded after he was hit by live fire near Ramallah, and two others were injured in the same protest near Ofer prison, medics said.
AFP journalists saw Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces in Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin.
The Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs, Issa Qaraqaa, on Sunday accused Israel of torturing Jaradat to death, citing the preliminary findings of an Israeli-Palestinian autopsy.
Qaraqaa said the autopsy carried out at Israel’s national forensic institute in the presence of a Palestinian doctor, indicated bruises on Jaradat’s torso and damage to muscles, as well as broken ribs.
Palestinian police kept order as Jaradat’s funeral got under way.