West Bank simmers with rage

West Banksimmers with rage

(AFP) / 27 February 2013

GAZA CITY Gaza militants from Fatahs Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fired a rocket at Israel on Tuesday as a preliminary response after one of its members died in an Israeli jail.

It was the first time a Gaza rocket had struck southern Israel in more than three months, and stoked fears that the mass protests in the West Bank over the fate of prisoners in Israeli jails could spread to the Hamas-run territory.

Following weeks of anger in support of four prisoners on long-term hunger strike, the issue came to head on Saturday with news that 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat, who had been interrogated for throwing stones, had died in custody.

Jaradat was arrested on February 18 and questioned by Israels Shin Bet internal security services on suspicion of involvement in a stone-throwing terror attack in November. Five days later, he died in Megiddo prison.

His death sparked angry demonstrations across the West Bank, with Palestinian prisoner affairs minister Issa Qaraqaa saying preliminary results from his autopsy showed he had died as a result of torture.

At his funeral near the southern city of Hebron on Monday, militants from Al Aqsa Brigades, an armed offshoot of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbass Fatah party, vowed revenge. The group claimed Tuesdays rocket as a first response.

In a preliminary response to the killing of our hero the prisoner Arafat Jaradat, we claim responsibility for firing a Grad rocket on Ashkelon at 6:00 am (0400 GMT), the Gaza branch said in a statement. The rocket struck a road just south of the Israeli port city, causing damage but no injuries, police said.

Israeli public radio citing military officials said it was a Grad M75.

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West Bank simmers with rage

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