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Middle East

Palestinian inmates briefly join hunger strike

Israeli Radio says 3,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have staged a one-day fast to protest the death of a fellow inmate. An autopsy is to be attended by Palestinian representatives.

Feb. 23, 2013 - Hebron, West Bank, Palestinian Territory - Relatives of the Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat, 30, mourn after the news of his death in Israeli jails, at their home in Asir town near the West Bank city of Hebron on Feb. 23, 2013. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Saturday asked for an international inquiry to investigate the circumstances of a Palestinian prisoner's death in an Israeli jail, an official said

Israel Hungerstreik

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem called on Sunday for a full probe into the circumstances of the death of Arafat Jaradat (framed photo, pictured above). He died suddenly on Saturday at the Megiddo detention center in northern Israel. A prison services official blamed cardiac arrest.

An autopsy that was scheduled for Sunday at Israel's national forensic institute was postponed, pending a court ruling on procedures. Jaradat's family, his attorney and the Palestinian Authority's head of forensic medicine had been invited to attend.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said hundreds of Palestinians in Jaradat's home village of Kfar-Sa'ir, near Hebron in the West Bank, burned tires and threw rocks on Sunday at soldiers. They responded by firing teargas and rubber bullets.

Israel's domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, said Jaradat - a 30-year-old father of two - had been arrested last Monday for his alleged involvement in a rock-throwing incident in November 2012 when an Israeli was injured.

A Shin Bet official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that Jaradat was not mistreated during interrogation, but added that he had previously had injuries, including a stomach hit by a tear gas canister.

Lengthy hunger strikes

Saturday's death in custody inflamed Israeli-Palestinian tensions over a lengthy hunger strike by four other prisoners detained by Israel. One has refused solid food for more than 200 days.

Two of them were released by Israel in 2011 but were re-arrested a year later for allegedly violating the terms of a prisoner exchange deal between the Gaza-based Hamas movement and Israel.

A Ramallah-based group representing Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails said on Sunday that seven further prisoners were joining that hunger strike.

ipj/slk (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)