Yesterday there were riots in Judea and Samaria, as Arabs protested the death of a prisoner held in Meggido Prison, Arafat Jaradat.
Israeli authorities said that an autopsy, carried out in the presence of a Palestinian doctor, did not show signs of torture. The Palestinian Authority claimed, on the other hand, that there was evidence of bruises and broken ribs. Israel said there were rib fractures but they could be attributed to attempts to resuscitate Jaradat. No cause of death could be determined.
The usual suspects — Amira Hass of Ha’aretz, +972 magazine, etc., — all insist, with zero evidence except their hatred of the Jewish state, that he died as a result of torture. Further tests will be carried out, but the actual facts will not change the opinion of 99% of the people on either side of the issue.
Jaradat, 30, had been arrested after a rock-throwing incident in which an Israeli was hurt. There has been an increase in such attacks on Israelis recently. Khaled Abu Toameh reports,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that he was in favor of a peaceful and popular resistance and that he and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have reached agreement on the need for a peaceful intifada.
The two met in Cairo during a recent conference of Islamic countries.
Speaking during an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, Abbas said that he fully supported demonstrations against the security barrier and settlements, as well as Palestinian attempts to establish outposts in the West Bank, but stressed his opposition to violent measures.
“Armed resistance is banned,” he stressed. “This is a law and it is forbidden. It is also forbidden in the Gaza Strip.”
Let me translate this apparently Gandhian remark: Arabs are encouraged to engage in disturbances in which they will throw rocks and launch them from powerful slings at Jewish soldiers and civilians. They may also try to tear apart any of the unwary that they get their hands on, and they may throw homemade firebombs. They will do their best to place security forces in the position that they must use force to defend themselves.
The use of actual firearms and explosives, if such occurs (it will), will be attributed to members of extremist groups that the P.A. and Hamas do not control. Shootings and bombings will be deplored, but ‘understood.’
It is also important to understand the rationale and the goals of these disturbances. They are currently focusing on the ‘prisoner issue,’ that is, the presence of Palestinian Arabs in Israeli jails for security-related offenses. Although many, including murderers, were released in trade for Gilad Shalit, Palestinians continue to engage in terrorism and continue to get arrested.
From the Arab point of view, this is insufferable: first, because any anti-Jewish activity is considered resistance to occupation and therefore is justified; and second, because they do not recognize the authority of the Israeli ‘colonialist’ government to arrest Arabs, whom they view as the indigenous owners of the land. The release of prisoners is one of the P.A.’s preconditions for negotiation with Israel, along with stopping construction in the territories and eastern Jerusalem.
But why heat things up just now?
Abu Toameh and other commentators have suggested that it is because of the impending visit of Barack Obama to Israel. Although Obama himself hasn’t said much about it, there are indications — particularly from the new Secretary of State, John Kerry — that a new push for an Israel-PA agreement is in the offing.
Kerry is prepared to look reality in the eye and force it to back down:
“We need to try to find a way forward,” Kerry said at his Senate confirmation hearing last month. He said the window to create an independent Palestinian state and to ensure Israeli security soon “could shut on everybody, and that would be disastrous.”
But creating an independent Palestinian state soon would be the worst possible way to “ensure Israeli security!” It’s hard to imagine what logical process went on in Kerry’s head to make this statement possible.