(MintPress) – While headlines throughout the U.S. indicate a Palestinian rocket attack directed at Israel broke the three-month long cease-fire agreement, Palestinian lawyers and activists are claiming Israeli action led to the breakdown, citing Israeli Defense Forces’ violent targeting of Palestinians and nonviolent protesters resisting occupation. On Sunday, more than 800 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli […]
(MintPress) – While headlines throughout the U.S. indicate a Palestinian rocket attack directed at Israel broke the three-month long cease-fire agreement, Palestinian lawyers and activists are claiming Israeli action led to the breakdown, citing Israeli Defense Forces’ violent targeting of Palestinians and nonviolent protesters resisting occupation.
On Sunday, more than 800 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails held a hunger strike in solidarity and mourning to the death of a fellow inmate, who died during his interrogation period at an Israeli prison, allegedly from torture.
Israeli prison authorities presumed the cause of death for 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat to be cardiac arrest, but fellow inmates claim he perished due to inhumane conditions. Jaradat, who is a father of two children, was reportedly healthy at the time of his arrest.
An autopsy performed by the Israeli institute has preliminary indicated there were no signs of physical abuse or illness, according to a Global Post Report. Israeli police are also hosting an investigation — one that is being watched closely by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he wants an international investigation into Jaradat’s death by the U.N. after a Palestinian forensic experts confirmed he died of torture — that according to various news sources, including Mondoweiss and Ma’an News.
Jaradat was arrested after he allegedly threw a stone at Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip.
Security forces fired back with tear gas and stun grenades before arresting those involved in the incident. Jaradat was arrested the Monday prior to his death, and allegedly confessed to other rock-throwing incidents, according to Israeli National News station, Arutz Sheva.
Before his death, Jaradat was one of 4,600 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons for charges related to stone-throwing and other attacks against Israeli settlers — 159 of such prisoners are held without charge or trial, according to Al Jazeera.
At the same time, Palestinian prisoners underwent their hunger strike and nonviolent protesters gathered in mass in Hebron, West Bank. Those gathered stood in solidarity, not only with those protesting the death of Jaradat, but also with Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike since August.
Did the cease-fire start with the rocket?
These were the scenarios that led to increasing tension between Israeli and Palestinian forces. On Tuesday morning, media reports including the Associated Press and the New York Times indicated a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip, landing in Israeli territory.
The rocket launch was seen as the manifestation of the tension — the move that broke that “officially” broke the three-month long cease-fire.
The terms of the cease-fire, however, did not just apply to rocket attacks. The language of the cease-fire agreement stated that Israel could not deploy troops or target political and militant leaders in Gaza — actions Palestinian civilians and activists claim have already happened.
A Hamas lawmaker, Mushir al-Masri, told the New York Times that Israel was “fully responsible for the consequences of the wave of the Palestinian public fury,” citing Israel’s violation of the cease-fire during recent incidents when residents of Gaza were shot near the Israeli border.
Before the rocket attack, a report in Al Jazeera Jan. 24, days before the rocket launch, indicated the death of Jaradat and subsequent protests could have led to violence between Palestinian activists and Israeli forces. The New York Times reported that Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, part of the Palestinian Fatah faction, emailed that it fired the rocket in response to the “assassination” of Jaradat.
The U.S. State Department is requesting that both sides resist attacks.
“All parties should seriously consider the consequences of their actions, particularly at this very difficult momentum,” Patrick Ventrell, State Department spokesman said at a press conference, according to The Times. “We urge both Palestinians and Israelis not only to refrain from provocative actions that could destabilize conditions on the ground but to consider positive steps, just re-establish trust and de-escalate the current tensions.”