A worrying, although too familiar, bout of violence has erupted in the West Bank, over the death of a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody. Although Israel denies any kind of wrongdoing in the face of accusations of torture by the victim-s interrogators, Palestinian authorities have called for an international objective inquiry into this death.
In what some may consider the onset of a third Intifada, angry Palestinians have been burning tires and throwing stones at Israeli troops, who have in turn responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, for days. The IDF has even resorted to live ammunition, injuring two teenagers on Monday, when further protests were organised in Hebron after the burial of the “marthyr”, and thus spurring even more violence in the Eastern Palestinian territory, and the launching of a rocket in Gaza, the first after the November ceasefire. Israeli officials have also publicly shown their deep concern over the escalation, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has forgot for a while the formation of a new government and has ordered the release of frozen tax funds collected last month, thus temporarily putting an end to the main reprisal Israel threatened with after Palestine was granted non-member observer state status by the UN General Assembly.
Moreover, approximately 3,000 Palestinian prisoners, amongst the 4,500 Israel is said to hold in its prisons on charges spanning from stone/throwing to terrorist activities, held a one-day hunger strike out of solidarity. At the beginning, demonstrations were organized for the release of four of them (two were rearrested months after their release in the 2011 prisoner exchange that freed Gilad Shalit), who have been in hunger strike for months, stressing the ordeal many inmates have to go through, notably including arbitrary detention, extrajudicial imprisonment and the systematic use of torture by Israeli security forces that has been evidenced by international watchdogs such as Human Rights Watch. According to Middle East Monitor, the death of Arafat Jaradat could have been the last straw, and may well thrust the Palestinian Authority (if Mahmoud Abbas ask for the state’s signing of the Rome Statute, that is) to take Israel to the International Criminal Court over crimes against Palestinians.
The despair of the Palestinians is completely understandable. It’s a dire rage not only directed against their occupier, but also against their own failing authorities. Many elements add to the already serious preoccupations that led to widespread protests and to what some called a “Palestinian Spring“: the announcement of construction activity in the “untouchable” E1 area, a round of elections in Israel that has for the most part ignored their plight, a certain feeling of being outshined by Gaza’s inhabitants, a growingly blunter stance by settlers, the arrests of released prisoners from the Shalit deal… Palestine appears to be a spark away from a third uprising, and Israel is only making this outcome more plausible…