Palestinians call for probe of Israeli prisons

Updated 24 February 2013
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Palestinians call for probe of Israeli prisons

RAMALLAH: Palestinians yesterday called for an international investigation of Israel’s treatment of detained Palestinians, after a 30-year-old Palestinian died in custody and a hunger strike by four other inmates sparked a week of West Bank protests.
The death of Arafat Jaradat on Saturday raised new questions about Israel’s Shin Bet security service, which has been accused by rights groups of mistreating Palestinians during interrogation.
Palestinian officials and the detainee’s family alleged Jaradat was mistreated by the Shin Bet, saying he was healthy at the time of his arrest last week.
Israeli officials said Jaradat died of an apparent heart attack and denied he was beaten or subjected to any treatment that could have led to his death. Several thousand Palestinian prisoners held by Israel observed a one-day fast yesterday to protest Jaradat’s death, which was bound to spur more Palestinian demonstrations in support of prisoners.
In the West Bank’s largest city, Hebron, dozens of Palestinians yesterday threw stones at Israeli soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel pellets. Stone-throwing protests also erupted near Jaradat’s village of Saeer in the West Bank.
In all, Israel holds close to 4,600 Palestinians on a range of charges, from throwing stones at Israelis to involvement in deadly shooting and bombing attacks. Of the detainees, 159 are being held without charges or trial in so-called administrative detention.
The fate of prisoners is an emotional issue for Palestinians and Israelis.
Virtually every Palestinian family has seen a member imprisoned since Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in 1967, and the prisoners are generally seen as heroes resisting Israeli occupation. Many Israelis tend to view Palestinians involved in politically motivated violence as terrorists.
The Shin Bet said Jaradat was arrested last Monday, after residents in his village of Saeer said he was involved in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli.
Jaradat admitted 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, they didn’t succeed in saving his life,” the statement said.
A Shin Bet spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with protocol, said Jaradat was not beaten during his interrogation, nor was he subjected to any treatment that could have affected his health.
Jaradat was not on a hunger strike and died of an apparent heart attack, said Sivan Weizman of the Israel Prisons Service.
Israel’s main forensics institute was to perform an autopsy, with a Palestinian physician in attendance.
Jaradat, a father of a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, worked as a gas station attendant and his wife, Dalal, is pregnant, relatives said.
His family and Palestinian officials said he was healthy at the time of his arrest, and alleged he was mistreated during interrogation.
Issa Karake, a Palestinian official who handles prisoner issues, said he holds Israel responsible for Jaradat’s death, alleging ill-treatment and medical negligence. Karake called for an independent international investigation of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian detainees.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem also demanded an investigation, including how Jaradat was questioned.
The agency routinely holds detainees in isolation for extended periods during interrogation, keeping them in cells that are lit around the clock and denying them access to lawyers, said Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for the group.
She said that physical mistreatment of detainees has dropped sharply in recent years, but has not disappeared, according to affidavits by released prisoners. She also said detainees have filed some 700 complaints about mistreatment by Shin Bet agents over the past decade, but that none has led to a criminal investigation.
Jaradat’s death comes at a time of daily Palestinian demonstrations in support of prisoners, especially four hunger strikers.
The health of one of the hunger strikers has deteriorated.
In recent days, protests often turned into violent clashes with soldiers.
Defense officials said Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz convened top military officials Saturday night to discuss escalating tensions in the West Bank.


Libya’s coast guard recovers five bodies from migrant boat

African migrants rescued from a ship off the coast of Zuwara, about 130 kilometres west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, sit alongside of bodies of others who died, at the dock in the capital's naval base on June 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 50 min 17 sec ago
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Libya’s coast guard recovers five bodies from migrant boat

  • Since January, some 10,760 migrants have crossed from Libya to Italy, more than 80 percent less than during the same period last year
  • Since last summer, smuggling networks inside Libya have been disrupted under Italian pressure

TRIPOLI: Libyan coast guards said on Monday they had recovered the bodies of five migrants and picked 191 survivors off the coast west of the capital Tripoli.
Libya’s western coast is the main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by the sea, though the number of crossings has dropped sharply since last July.
The five dead migrants were brought back to port in Tripoli on Monday along with 115 survivors from various sub-Saharan African and Arab countries, coast guard officials said.
Their boat was intercepted off Mellitah on Sunday after being damaged by rough seas, according to Ayoub Qassem, a coast guard spokesman.
Another group of 76 migrants was intercepted on Sunday off Zawiya, just west of Tripoli.
Since last summer, smuggling networks inside Libya have been disrupted under Italian pressure and Libya’s EU-backed coast guard has stepped up interceptions, returning more than 7,000 migrants to Libya so far this year.
Since January, some 10,760 migrants have crossed from Libya to Italy, more than 80 percent less than during the same period last year, according to statistics from Italy’s interior ministry.
Last week, crossings in the central Mediterranean were thrown into further uncertainty when Italy’s new government closed its ports to a rescue ship operated by humanitarian organizations that was loaded with more than 600 migrants.
It eventually docked in Spain.