The Palestinian Authority said Saturday it has launched an investigation into the death of a detainee in a Palestinian prison in Jericho.
Ayman Samarah, 40, of Jenin, was found dead in his prison cell on Friday.
PA security sources said that Samarah was known to suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes.
PA Prosecutor-General Abdel Ghani Al-Uwaiwi ordered an immediate investigation into the death of the detainee.
He also instructed the PA security forces to perform an autopsy on Samarah’s body to determine the cause of death.
Palestinians in Jericho claimed that Samarah died after being beaten by another detainee.
The death of the detainee in Palestinian custody has embarrassed the PA leadership, especially in wake of the fact that it occurred one week after another Palestinian, Arafat Jaradat, died in Israeli custody.
PA security forces on Saturday prevented Palestinian journalists from covering the case of Samarah.
One journalist, Mustafa Khawaja, who worked for the local Al-Aqsa TV station, was detained by PA security officers for several hours when he tried to report about a sit-in strike by families of Palestinians held in Jericho Prison.
A PA official in Ramallah ruled out the possibility that Samarah had been tortured while in prison.
The official revealed that Samarah had been detained on suspicion of stabbing a man during a fight in Jericho.
The Jericho Prison is one of the PA’s biggest prisons in the West Bank.
Palestinians said over the weekend that some detainees had complained of torture while being held in the prison.
On Saturday, the mother of Karim Shaheen, who is being held in Jericho Prison, said that her son has been hospitalized after suffering from paralysis in in his left arm as a result of torture.
The family of another detainee, Baha Zahdeh, also accused the PA security forces of torturing their son, who is being held in the same prison on suspicion of membership in Hamas.
Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that Jaradat had no signs of torture, and equate these two cases of a Palestinian prisoners supposedly tortured in jail. Is the complete dichotomy between the media frenzy around Jaradat, and the lack thereof around Samarah a sign of the world’s obsession with Israel, and dare I say it, closet anti-Semitism? How else would you explain how similar events are so split apart in the reactions, when they happened just 80 Km from one another?
I do however want to retract my previous statement about no press coverage of Palestinian deaths in PA prisons, as there is one “Saint in Sodom” if you will, Tim Marshall of Sky News.
The death of another Palestinian in Israeli custody has quite understandably generated headlines in many countries, including Israel.
It is the subject of questions in the Israeli parliament, and debate about Israel’s human rights record.
Contrast this with a subject which rarely gets headlines, and which fails to spark debate; the conditions of Palestinians in Palestinian jails. Few people speak for them, their fate does not generate demonstrations or agonised debate, nor righteous anger in the outside world.
Palestinians are well aware that few people will stand up for them if they are taken into the police stations and prisons run by the Palestinian authorities in either Gaza or the West Bank. They know that torture in these establishments is routine and that deaths in custody occur there as well.
For example, Ibrahim Akram al A’araj was beaten to death in a Gaza police station in 2011. In the same year, Hassan Muhammad al Hamedi died after being tortured by police, and Adel Saleh Rizeq Rizeq died in police custody. His family said he had been tortured to death but the police said he drank chlorine.
The Independent Commission for Human Rights, the official ombudsman for Palestine, has documented the hundreds of illegal detentions and beatings administered by a Palestinian police force in the West Bank, which is both funded and trained by the EU.
Between January 2009 and July 2012, it received 584 complaints of torture and inhuman treatment in the West Bank alone. Despite the volume of complaints, Human Rights Watch says it cannot find a single case in which a Palestinian official has been punished for serious abuse.
The Palestinian authorities are said to use the “Shabah” as a routine method of torture. This is where the detainee is forced into excruciatingly painful stress positions for prolonged periods.
The Shabah was used by the Israelis as well but was banned by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999. However, Palestinian prisoners and several activist groups say the Israelis still engage in torture on a regular basis.
If the allegation that Arafat Jaradat, died under torture is ever proved, it would generate more headlines and, hopefully, criminal proceedings. But who will speak for the Palestinians suffering in Palestinian jails? Human Rights Watch will, Amnesty International (of which this writer is a member) will, the Independent Commission for Human Rights will. And most of the people who would publicise the brutality of Mr Jaradat’s death will ignore them.
You may not agree with Marshall’s point of view, but kudos to him for being one of a few who is still fair and balanced, and who has the “Chuzpah” to not be part of the flock.
As for his question on who will speak for Ayman Samarah, it’s probably none of those who spoke out for
poor little gas station clerk Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades Arafat Jaradat. Why let human rights and due process in the PA stand in the way of bashing Israel and inciting hatred.
About the AuthorDan Smith has been exposing anti-Israel fallacies since the first time he opened the world wide web on Netscape Navigator, sometime in the late 90's. His lack of formal journalistic, political and sociological education means he is still capable of objective, unbiased views and opinions. A judge of media, pundits and media pundits.
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