Although a rocket fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday threatened to ignite already heightened tensions between Palestinians and Israelis, Israeli military officials said the surge in violence throughout the West Bank over the death of a Palestinian prisoner was subsiding.
“We are closely following the situation on a daily basis, and have seen a decline in the volume of the events,” said IDF spokesman Major Arye Shalicur on Wednesday. In the meantime, “the IDF is exercising enormous restraint on the ground,” he said.
The death of the 30-year-old Palestinian prisoner, Arafat Jaradat, at the Israeli Megiddo jail on Saturday sparked confrontations across the West Bank. Two Israelis and seven Palestinians were injured as a result.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for Jaradat’s death and condemned what he said was an “unprecedented Israeli escalation”. He also demanded a UN investigation into the case.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the PA curb the riots, and officials accused the government of inciting violence and, possibly, a third intifada.
Palestinians claim that Jaradat had been tortured under Israeli interrogation, while Israeli officials initially named cardiac arrest as the cause of death, but then said more tests were necessary.
On Monday, 10,000 people flocked to usher Jaradat’s body from a Hebron hospital to the cemetery in his home village of Sa’ir, where he was given a hero’s funeral. On Sunday, thousands of Palestinian prisoners staged a hunger strike out of solidarity with Jaradat.
In an attempt to restore calm, Israel transferred $100 million in tax money to the PA on Sunday and held talks with PA officials.