Clashes intensify after death of Palestinian prisoner

(JTA) — Clashes intensified in the West Bank following the death of a Palestinian prisoner who fellow inmates said had been tortured.

Arafat Jaradat, 30, died Saturday of a heart attack in the Megiddo jail in northern Israel five days after his arrest for participating in stone-throwing attacks on Israelis last year.

News of his death prompted the announcement of a three-day hunger strike by Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and clashes intensified throughout the West Bank.

According to Haaretz, fellow Megiddo prisoners said Jaradat fell ill after being tortured.

Israeli authorities said Jaradat was known to suffer from back pains and other maladies arising from previous clashes with Israeli troops, the newspaper said.

Tensions had flared a day earlier when Israeli police made a rare incursion into the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem. The police were responding to stone throwing by worshipers exiting Friday prayers from mosques at the site, which is holy both to Muslims and Jews.

In a clash in the northern West Bank on Saturday,  Jewish settlers used live fire in a clash with Palestinians over claims to farmland. Two Palestinians were wounded.

The West Bank has seen tensions mount recently over the status of Palestinian prisoners, some held without trial for years under administrative detention. Some of the prisoners have been on extended hunger strikes.

On Saturday, Human Rights Watch again called on Israel to end the practice of administrative detention, which it says violates the Geneva Conventions.

Israeli authorities have said the practice is necessary to keep dangerous actors out of the conflict while also keeping secret the sensitive intelligence that led their arrest.

Under administrative detention, a prisoner can be held without charges for up to four months. The administrative detention also can be renewed.

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