Unrest in West Bank fans fears of third intifada
Another day of unrest is expected in the West Bank today after a weekend of riots and prison protests in response to the death of a Palestinian prisoner.
Israeli officials said that Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat’s death in jail on Saturday came after a heart attack, but Palestinian Authority officials claimed that it was the result of torture.
Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces on Sunday in areas around the West Bank.
In Jaradat’s home village near Hebron, protesters threw rocks at Israeli soldiers who attempted to disperse the crowd. At other demonstrations, numbering up to 700-strong, protesters burned tyres and hurled rocks, while a crowd of 500 held a peaceful protest in the town of Halhul. One Israeli and two Palestinians have been injured in the clashes so far.
Also on Sunday, several thousand Palestinian prisoners went on a one-day hunger strike in response to the death.
Jaradat’s funeral is due to take place today and Israeli authorities fear that it will bring further unrest, with some Palestinians calling for a “day of rage”. Riots have already been reported in one village as residents gather for the funeral.
Former PA minister and the head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Kadoura Fares, told Maariv: “All of the incidents reveal a clear trend – we’re facing an intifada.”
The Israeli government have taken steps to quell tensions, releasing taxes for the PA that have been withheld for three weeks and several conversations have been held between the IDF and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in an attempt to douse the flames.