Israel: G4S Drawn Into Row Over Prison Death
The British company responsible for the Olympic security debacle is under pressure from human rights campaigners to sever its relationship with Israel's prison service after the mysterious death of a Palestinian, allegedly during questioning by Israel's secret police.
War on Want called on G4S, which provides services to the Israeli Prison Authority, to end all dealings with the Israeli Prison Authority (IPA) after lawyers for Arafat Jadarat, 30, claimed that an autopsy showed that he had been tortured while in Israeli custody.
Mr Jadarat, who died in Meggido Prison last week, was given a military hero's funeral in Sa'ir. Islamic Jihad gunmen fired volleys into the air and Palestinian Authority soldiers escorted his body to its grave.
At least 8,000 people crammed into the streets to pay their respects and demand "revenge". Islamic Jihad published a flyer vowing to strike back at Israel soon.
The scenes provoked speculation as to whether the Palestinians were starting a new intifada (uprising) in the wake of escalating violence involving Jewish settlers, Israel's security forces, and the Palestinians this year.
War on Want demanded that G4S "withdraws from contracts to supply Israeli prisons", in the wake of his alleged torture at the Al Jalameh interrogation centre on the West Bank.
G4S's failure to recruit enough security guards for the London Olympics resulted in the Armed Forces deploying 18,000 personnel to fill the gap. It is now is reported to have supplied equipment to major facilities run by the IPA. Its signs are prominently displayed around Meggido jail.
War on Want senior campaigner Rafeef Ziadah said: "G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons where Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners, are detained and tortured.
"This British company is profiting from human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. The terrible death of Arafat Jaradat highlights the urgent need for G4S to ends its complicity in Israel's prison system."
These claims are disputed by Israeli authorities who insist that prisoners are not subjected to any torture.
Mr Jaradat, a father of two who worked at a West Bank petrol station, was arrested for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli forces.
Israeli officials said first that he had died in detention of a heart attack but now suggest that more tests were needed to establish his cause of death. They have offered to open his autopsy reports to independent experts for assessment.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Monday that he was consulting with security officials, while UN envoy Robert Serry warned that "mounting tensions present a real risk of destabilisation".
Palestinian protests have been mounted with increasing anger over the last week in support of the 4,600 Palestinians held by Israel.
Palestinian and Israeli officials traded accusations on Monday, each saying the other was trying to exploit the latest unrest for political gains.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel is trying to provoke the Palestinians with what he said are increasingly lethal methods.
"However they try to drag us to that place, we won't be dragged," said Mr Abbas. "We won't be dragged, but they (Israelis) have to bear the responsibility."
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev alleged that Mr Abbas' self-rule government in the West Bank is inciting violence against Israel. Palestinian officials have called for more solidarity rallies for the prisoners.
US president Barack Obama is due to visit Israel and the West Bank next month.
Mr Abbas has frequently rejected a return to Palestinian violence but made an end to the building of Jewish settlements on the West Bank a condition of returning to talks.
Mr Obama's visit, his first, has come about largely as a result of European pressure. London, Paris and Berlin all fear that the opportunity for a peaceful end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is rapidly fading.