Thousands of Palestinians held protests across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while several thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails are staging a hunger strike on Saturday to protest the death of an inmate who died only days after being arrested.
While the Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman holds that Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two, with one more on the way, from the West Bank died of “probably a cardiac arrest,” Palestinian authorities are demanding an international investigation, holding that Jaradat was killed during interrogation seeing that he was doing well and had no known heart conditions prior to his arrest. And considering the vast number of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons without trial, the Israeli prisons’ infamous mistreatment of Palestinians during interrogation and the Israeli forces’ general conception of dehumanizing Palestinians and seeing them as a lesser people, this exactly what the Palestinian authorities should be doing and the international community should be stepping up when such blatant violations of human rights occur.
Jaradat was just one of the 4,600 Palestinians who are being held in custody by Israeli forces on charges ranging from throwing stones at Israelis to involvement in shootings and bombings. 178 others are being held without trial or charges in what is called administrative detention. Children are also often jailed, with about 193 adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18 being held in prison just last year – most of them for throwing stones. At this rate, almost every Palestinian family has watched at least one relative be captured by the Israeli forces for resisting the Israeli occupation. An Israeli human rights group B’Tselem spokeswoman has also added that Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, routinely holds detainees in isolation for excessive periods of time during interrogation while also denying them access to lawyers. According to affidavits by released prisoners, she also says that although physical abuse of prisoners has dropped over the years, it hasn’t disappeared and over 700 complaints regarding mistreatment by Shin Bet agents have been filed in the past decade.
The IDF also shows no regard to treating Palestinians as actual humans and this has become increasingly clear as more and more pictures from IDF soldiers resurface on Instagram. Pictures of Israeli soldiers detaining Palestinians, raiding homes at night or posing with weaponry have been discovered on the online photo-sharing social networking service with disturbing commentary. One Instagram user, “YBaruch” who claims to be a “retired operations sergeant at the Israeli army,” has posted over 144 photos which include a photo showing Israeli soldiers playing a “card game” with Palestinian IDs at a military checkpoint and another photo of an over-turned car that is captioned “oops … one less Arab. Let’s see if he’ll try to escape from us again.”
Israeli forces have shown over and over again that they’re treatment of Palestinians – whether in prison, or through their continued blockage of exports and imports into the Gaza strip or the continued use of unnecessary lethal force against demonstrators – is not to encourage peace between the two nations but rather to continue to drive a wedge and incite further violence and instability.
As the U.S. continues to funnel aid to Israel despite its relentless and continued violations of human rights, it is prudent that the international community investigate cases such as this one to ensure that Israel understands it isn’t above the law and that it cannot go on massively violating human rights.