Israel calls calm as Palestinian militants vow revenge

Militants vow revenge for a prisoner who died allegedly under torture in an Israeli jail.

Afp February 26, 2013
Israeli security forces shoot tear gas canisters as they chase Palestinian protestors, following the funeral of a Palestinian man who died in an Israeli prison. PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday demanded the Palestinian Authority rein in unrest as militants vowed revenge for a prisoner who died allegedly under torture in an Israeli jail.

Thousands thronged the West Bank village of Sair for the funeral of Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two and member of the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades group which vowed to avenge him.

"This horrific crime will not go unpunished and we promise the Zionist occupation that we will respond to this crime," the militants said in a statement.

Al Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, "mourns with pride its hero, the martyr of freedom, the prisoner Arafat Jaradat," they said.

Israel reacted to the threat by demanding that the Palestinian Authority (PA) act "responsibly" to rein in unrest; with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev calling for peace talks not violence.

"Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to act responsibly to prevent incitement and violence which will only exacerbate the situation," Regev told AFP, in the second Israeli appeal for calm in as many days.

"Ultimately, not violence but peace talks are what is needed."

Abbas earlier accused Israel of trying to sow "chaos" in the occupied West Bank but said his people would not be provoked into violence.

The Palestinians say Jaradat's death on Saturday was the result of torture.

In Sair, Jaradat's hometown, masked militants attending the funeral fired assault rifles into the air and angry mourners who flooded the village waved Fatah banners and Palestinian flags. Israeli forces stayed outside Sair.

Armed and masked Palestinian militants had not been seen in the West Bank since the last intifada, or uprising, that broke out in 2000 and raged on for five years.

No incidents were reported in Sair but an Israeli military spokesman reported "scattered protests here and there" in the West Bank on Monday.

Around 500 Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli soldiers outside the Ofer military prison near Ramallah, where several hundred Palestinian prisoners are detained.

Israeli troops opened fire and used tear gas against the protesters, witnesses said, adding that army snipers were deployed on rooftops of neighbouring buildings.

Palestinian medics said 26 protesters were injured by rubber bullets while seven others were hit by live fire and moderately wounded, while an army spokesman said six Palestinians were hurt by rubber bullets.

Clashes also broke out in Hebron and near Aida refugee camp where a teenager was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli troops, the medics said.

The Palestinian, identified as 15-year-old Odai Sarhan, was transferred to Hadassa hospital in Jerusalem while two others, also hit by live fire in the clashes near Aida camp, were taken to a hospital in nearby Bethlehem.

Protests demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and in solidarity with several hunger strikers have rocked the West Bank over the past weeks.

Israeli prison authorities have said that Jaradat appeared to have died of a heart attack.

But on Sunday, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, Issa Qaraqaa, citing the preliminary findings of an Israeli-Palestinian autopsy, reported bruises on Jaradat's body, muscle damage and broken ribs.

Israel said the fractured ribs could have been caused by efforts to resuscitate him.

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, on Monday sent condolences to Jaradat's family and called for "an independent and transparent investigation" into his death.

Serry also warned against "a real risk of destabilisation" and called on all parties to show restraint "to prevent further violence."

Israeli media have linked the unrest and concerns over a possible escalation to next month's visit by US President Barack Obama to the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories.

Rocket fired from Gaza Strip

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed early Tuesday near Ashkelon in southern Israel, police said, in the first such strike since a November truce.

"The rocket fell early in the morning near Ashkelon and did some damage to a road, without hurting anyone," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

It was the first such attack since the end of an Israeli operation late November, during which more than a thousand rockets were fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the extremist group Hamas.

The two sides finally agreed a truce on November 21 following the eight-day Israeli military operation inside Gaza.

The violence killed 177 Palestinians, about a hundred of them civilians, as well as six Israelis, four of whom were civilians, according to figures issued by the two sides.

Tuesday's rocket fire comes at a time when tensions are particularly high following the weekend death of a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail, who the Palestinians say had been tortured.

Thousands of Palestinians thronged the West Bank village of Sair on Monday for the funeral of Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two and member of the  al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Both the Palestinians and the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, have called for an independent inquiry into his death.


cautious | 10 years ago | Reply

Militant retaliation has never been an effective weapon against Israel. The first infifata demonstrated Israeli's Achilles heel - grass root non violent demonstration.

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