Israeli Defense on High Alert for Prisoner's Funeral

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel is bracing for trouble after a Palestinian prisoner died over the weekend following weeks of violent protests in flashpoints between Israeli troops and Palestinians.

Some analysts are saying it's a Palestinian leadership ploy to pressure Israel ahead of President Obama's visit next month.

The Israel Defense Forces prepared for more violent demonstrations Monday ahead of the funeral of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian Arab who died in Israeli custody on Saturday.

Israel says the 30-year-old died of an apparent heart attack, but Palestinians are claiming he was tortured to death.

Meanwhile, increasing violence has prompted some analysts to predict a third intifada (armed uprising) is coming.

Demonstrations and rioting have become a daily occurrence in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Last week, thousands of Arabs demonstrated near the Ofer Prison close to Ramallah, where prisoners periodically resort to symbolic hunger strikes.

At one demonstration organized last week by the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad accused Israel of jeopardizing the lives of four prisoners on a prolonged hunger strike.

Two are serving time for terror-related offenses and two are being held in administrative detention for similar offenses. 

Some analysts say the P.A. is behind the rising violence, hoping to convince President Obama to pressure Israel for concessions during his first state visit to Israel in March. Others say the P.A. wants to foment a third intifada.

On Monday, the IDF beefed up its presence near Hebron and the surrounding area near the village of Sa'ir, where the funeral will take place, closing the main highway between Jewish communities in Gush Etzion and primarily Arab Hebron.

Despite its increased presence, the IDF wanted P.A. security forces to take control of the situation as much as possible.

Jaradat was taken into custody last Monday for a rock attack that injured an Israeli. A statement released by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said the physician who examined him during the week found him in good health.

On Saturday Jaradat complained of not feeling well after lunch. Paramedics and a doctor were unable to save him after he suffered cardiac arrest.

Despite Israel's announcement, the Palestinian Authority claimed he's been tortured to death.

P.A. Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqaa told AFP he "was killed during the investigation" and demanded an international commission of inquiry "to probe the circumstances of his death."

An autopsy at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine, attended by P.A. officials and members of the Jaradat's family, showed no signs of physical injuries outside of light bruising from resuscitation attempts.

He's survived by his wife, who is pregnant, a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to P.A. officials to restore calm.

On Sunday, Netanyahu instructed his senior envoy to the Palestinians, Yitzhak Molcho, to speak with P.A. officials about curbing the growing violence.

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem

From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.