Middle East

Palestinian detainee Arafat Jaradat's funeral held

The funeral of a Palestinian whose death in Israeli custody on Saturday fuelled riots has been held in a village in the West Bank.

Palestinians say Arafat Jaradat, 30, died from torture, while Israel says a post-mortem was inconclusive and that investigations into his death continue.

There were clashes across the West Bank on Sunday, while prisoners refused food in protest at Mr Jaradat's death.

It follows days of violence amid protests over Palestinian detainees.

Mr Jaradat, from Saeer, near Hebron, was arrested last week for throwing a rock which injured an Israeli citizen, Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet said.

The father-of-two died six days later at Megiddo prison, from what the Israel Prison Service (IPS) said appeared to be a heart attack.

Palestinian officials, however, said an autopsy carried out by Israeli pathologists showed he had suffered two broken ribs and had bruising.

"[Arafat Jaradat] faced harsh torture, leading to his immediate, direct death. Israel is fully responsible for his killing,'' Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs Issa Karake said.

Israel's health ministry said the injuries were likely the result of attempts to resuscitate Mr Jaradat, and that the cause of his death had not been determined by the post-mortem.

'Unequivocal demand'

Thousands of Palestinians - many waving Palestinian flags - packed the streets in Saeer as the funeral took place.

Militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, to which Mr Jaradat belonged, fired into the air and vowed to avenge his death, AFP news agency reported.

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

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel's treatment of prisoners and violence by Jewish settlers were to blame for the upsurge in anger.

Israel's security minister Avi Dichter, however, accused the Palestinians of fomenting violence and "trying to drag us to a situation where there will be dead children".

Mr Dichter voiced concern that clashes could escalate into a third intifada (uprising), telling Israel Radio high numbers of deaths had preceded both previous uprisings.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made "an unequivocal demand" to the Palestinian Authority to calm the surge of protests, a statement from his office said.

Almost all 4,500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails refused food on Sunday in protest at Mr Jaradat's death, an IPS spokeswoman told AFP.

The issue of Palestinian prisoners has been prominent for days, with clashes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem last week amid protests over the the continued detention of four hunger strikers.

The clashes continued on Sunday, fuelled by news of Mr Jaradat's death.

Stone-throwing protesters in the West Bank towns of Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and elsewhere faced off with Israeli soldiers deploying tear gas and stun grenades.

One Palestinian man was said to have been seriously wounded after being hit with live rounds.

In Gaza City, women gathered with flags and posters to protest at the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.