Is a Third Palestinian Intifada Coming?
The death of a Palestinian prisoner may trigger widespread unrest in the West Bank.
Over the past days, growing unrest in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in response to the death of a Palestinian in Israeli custody has threatened the relative calm that has prevailed recently, a result of the considerable amount of cooperation between the Palestinian security services and the Israeli army. While it seems clear that neither of the main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, are interested in an escalation, the speed with which large protests erupted in the last week demonstrates once again the danger of pretending that the status quo in the occupied territories is a sustainable one.
Although protests against various aspects of the occupation— the encroachment of Israeli settlements and the construction of its separation barrier on Palestinian farmland, to name two of the most onerous—have become a regular occurrence over the last few years, demonstrations have increased markedly over the past weeks in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. The size and intensity of the protests grew after the news came on Saturday that a young man named Arafat Jaradat had died in Israeli custody.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu communicated his concerns to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, requesting that he control tensions. Abbas reportedly met with his security chiefs on Monday night and ordered them to maintain calm, but other members of Abbas’ Fatah party have encouraged the protests.
Arrested several days previously for throwing stones at cars near an Israeli settlement, the circumstances of Jaradat’s death are in dispute. An Israeli government spokesman initially said that the 30-year-old father of two had died of a heart attack. Speaking later at a news conference in Ramallah, Issa Qaraka, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs said, “The signs that appeared during the autopsy show clearly that he was subjected to severe torture that led immediately to his death.” An Israeli spokesman later said that the autopsy was inconclusive, but that Jaradat’s injuries could have been caused by efforts to revive him.
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