Jaradat’s horrifying death may spark a revolution
The shocking news of Arafat Jaradat’s death is not so shocking when one considers the circumstances surrounding the event. The 30-year old native of Saeer, a Hebron-area town, was apparently a healthy, hard-working married father of two who also happened to love his country. Just six days after being arrested by Israeli occupation forces from his home, Jaradat was pronounced dead, first of a ‘heart attack’ and later, after a damning autopsy report, from reasons still ‘inconclusive.’
His family, and frankly the entire Palestinian people, knows better. Jaradat, seen also by a Palestinian doctor who participated in the autopsy, was covered in wounds, bruises and contusions. He had two broken ribs – which Israel claims is the result of CPR efforts to revive him – and massive bruising on his chest, shoulders and face. According to Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe, Jaradat also had broken bones in his neck, arms and legs. During a court session in the middle of his interrogation process, his lawyer, Kameel Sabbagh said Jaradat was extremely fatigued and had complained to him of severe pains from the beatings and from being tied in the same position for several hours on end.
Other bits and pieces of Jaradat’s story are surfacing, all which incriminate Israel and its interrogators in his brutal death. According to his family members, the night he was arrested, an Israeli intelligence officer brought him briefly back to see his family so he could “bid them farewell.”
So no, his death is not a surprise. The shock comes from the horror that something so terrible could happen in this day and age, before the awful recognition dawns that is not the first time Israeli interrogators torture to kill.
Now, Israel must pay the consequence of its crime. Everyone is outraged and is pointing their finger in one direction. Israel knows it may have gone one step too far, especially in light of the already charged situation on the ground. Palestinians have been protesting and rallying around prisoners for months now, with this surge of solidarity and protest expanding with each passing day. Samer Issawi, Ayman Sharawneh and other prisoners on hunger strike have become household names and sons of all Palestinians. With Jaradat’s death and the possible death of one of the hunger strikers, Israel will be facing the wrath of a nation that snapped. And contrary to what Israel thinks – it has reportedly called on the PA to calm the streets and quell the protests ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit next month – there is nothing that can quiet a people who have had enough.
Besides, if a third Intifada – one of Israel’s biggest fears – does break out on the back of Jaradat’s death and the overall disregard Israel pays to the plight of Palestinian prisoners, perhaps this will open the world’s sleepy eyes. Killing prisoners is no small thing.
On September 12, 1977 head of the South African Black Consciousness Movement Steven Biko was bludgeoned to death by South African police in a Pretoria prison. Just like the Israelis, South African authorities tried to cover up the murder, saying at first that Biko starved himself to death, later changing their story to kidney failure. They only later concurred that he “may have hit his head when he fell out of bed.” Needless to say, Biko became a hero and a martyr for South Africa and his death became a mobilizing factor in the fight against Apartheid.
Arafat Jaradat was taken in on charges of stone throwing. It was only when he reportedly refused to rat out his fellow comrades that his interrogation became savage. The coming days will tell if Jaradat’s tragic death will pave the way for a new revolution. He certainly has dedicated comrades fighting the good fight in his footsteps. From the dank and dark cells where scores of prisoners are defying Israeli prison services by refusing to eat, to the frail and dying frame of Samer Issawi, to the thousands of citizens protesting every day at flashpoints with the Israeli army, Palestine’s revolutionary spirit is a constant spring of rebirth.
While Palestinians do not seek out the death of their sons and daughters, they have come to realize that a life without freedom is really no life at all.
Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at email@example.com.