Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have launched a one-day hunger strike in protest at the death of a Palestinian inmate in an Israeli jail. "About 3,000 prisoners announced that they would refuse meals," Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said on Sunday. "It's just the meals of one day; three meals." The protest move came one day after Israeli officials alleged Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two, had died of cardiac arrest in Israel's Magiddo prison. Reports also say the regime's forces have been put on high alert for possible demonstrations by Palestinians over Jaradat's death. Palestinian Authority's Minister for Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqea on Saturday called for an international investigation into the death of the Palestinian inmate. The chairman of the West Bank-based Palestinian Prisoners' Club, an association that supports Palestinians in Israeli prisons, rejected claims by Israeli authorities that Jaradat had suffered from various health problems prior to his arrest. Jaradat did not suffer from any illness, Qadoura Fares said on Saturday, adding, "Israel was responsible for his life." Jaradat was arrested on February 18 on suspicion of being involved in hurling stones at Israeli soldiers.
More than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli prisons, many of them without charge or trial. Four of these prisoners-- Ayman Sharawneh, Samer al-Issawi, Jaafar Ezzedine, and Tareq Qaa'dan -- have been on hunger strike for months.Several demonstrations have been held across the Palestinian territories to show solidarity with the four men, whose health is deteriorating. The inmates were admitted to hospital on Friday. The prisoners have been on hunger strike for months to protest against their administrative detention, a controversial practice used by Tel Aviv that allows the Israeli authorities to incarcerate Palestinians indefinitely without charging them or holding a trial. DB/MA