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25 Feb, 2013 13:21

Stun grenades and rubber bullets: IDF and Palestinians clash following prisoner's funeral

Stun grenades and rubber bullets: IDF and Palestinians clash following prisoner's funeral

Thousands of Palestinian mourners have attended the West Bank funeral of Arafat Jaradat, whose death in an Israeli prison fueled violent clashes. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of inciting “chaos” as more riots followed the burial.

Up to 25,000 Palestinians turned out for Jaradat’s funeral in the village of Sair on Monday, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Israeli soldiers were out in force on the periphery of Sair, with masked militants in full battle regale underscoring the tense atmosphere.

Half a dozen gunmen from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades let off bursts of automatic fire into the air after the mass procession carried Jaradat’s body from a hospital in the southern West Bank city of Hebron to his home village.

"We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, our martyr!" mourners cried out.

Hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli security forces in the West Bank following the funeral, prompting them to deploy tear gas and stun grenades.

Around a hundred people also clashed with Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) outside the prison were Jaradat died.

Palestinian witnesses said that around 10 people were wounded by IDF fire in the West Bank town of Beitunia, near the Ofer military compound, Haaretz reported. The same source also said that two Palestinian teenagers and one Israeli child were wounded in separate clashes.

The IDF confirmed that half a dozen Palestinians were wounded, but denied the use of live ammunition, saying all the casualties were caused by rubber bullets.

Palestinians carry the body of Arafat Jaradat as it arrives at his home before his funeral in the West Bank village of Se'eer near Hebron February 25, 2013. (Reuters / Darren Whiteside)

A stone-throwing Palestinian protester uses a branch to move a burning tyre during clashes with Israeli soldiers outside Israel's Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah February 25, 2013. (Reuters / Mohamad Torokman)

Jaradat, 30, was arrested last Monday for his alleged involvement in a stone-throwing incident last November in which one IDF soldier was injured. During his detainment, Jaradat was interrogated by Israel’s internal intelligence service – Shin Bet – and would later die on Saturday in Megiddo prison.

Following an autopsy on Sunday, Palestinian officials said Jaradat died after being tortured. Israel said the results of the autopsy were inclusive, and the injuries Jaradat sustained such as broken ribs may have occurred while he was receiving CPR.

Meanwhile, the UN has called for an independent inquiry into the death of Arafat Jaradat.

"The United Nations expects the autopsy to be followed by an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Jaradat's death, the results of which should be made public as soon as possible," UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry said on Monday.

An Israeli border policeman holds a stun grenade as he runs during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron February 25, 2013. (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

A stone-throwing Palestinian protester runs past tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron February 25, 2013. (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

Reap what you sow

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the recent escalation of violence, accusing them of deliberately killing Palestinian children in order to “sow anger” amongst them.

"The Israelis want chaos ... We will not allow them to drag us into it and to mess with the lives of our children and our youth," Abbas told reporters from his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Monday.

Abbas demanded an inquiry into Jaradat’s death and challenged Israel’s detention of some 4,700 Palestinians.

"We won't allow our prisoners to remain behind bars for life due to unfounded charges,” he said.

Abbas’ charge that Israel is fueling chaos in the West Bank comes in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “unequivocal demand” on Sunday that the Palestinian leadership “calm the territory.”

Abbas has said he will not allow a third armed Intifada like the second 2000-2005 uprising which claimed 3,000 Palestinian lives and 1,000 Israeli’s.

But an ongoing hunger strike by four Palestinian prisoners which inspired a wave of violent protests last week, has revived fears that a dramatic escalation of hostilities could be forthcoming.

On Sunday, Palestinian leaders warned that the death of any of the four hunger strikers could spark a wave of unrest which may be beyond their power to control.

A masked Palestinian youth throws a fire bomb towards Israeli forces during clashes outside Israel's Ofer prison near Ramallah on February 25, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

An Israeli border guard fires a tear gas cansiter during clashes with Palestinian youths outside Israel's Ofer prison near Ramallah on February 25, 2013. (AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)