Arafat Jaradat and the torture of Palestinian prisoners that the Guardian won’t report

In late February, the Guardian devoted six separate news items (three stories and three photo posts) to the death of a Palestinian – named Arafat Jaradat – in an Israeli jail.  The stories, which all portrayed Jaradat and his ’cause’ in a sympathetic light, focused on baseless allegations by the PA that Jaradat, an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member who was arrested for terror activity, died as the result of torture – claims which were contradicted by the autopsy performed by Israel’s top forensic pathologists. 

Here are the Guardian’s reports:

Item 1 (Phoebe Greenwood)

1

Item 2 (Associated Press)

2

Item 3 (Phoebe Greenwood)

4

Items 4 and 5: (Two photos relating to Jaradat from the same Feb. 25 edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’)

1 and a half

1 and a half part 2

Item (Picture Desk Live, Feb. 26)

Though the PA’s claims of torture received significant coverage, subsequent reports (only a few days later) by Israeli pathologists – that the hemorrhages and fractured ribs found during the autopsy were caused by resuscitation attempts performed by medical staff, and not due to physical abuse – received no coverage in the Guardian.

Indeed, such myopic and at times obsessive focus on Israeli culpability is part of a pattern at the Guardian.

Similarly unreported by the paper are the myriad of credible charges of torture by Palestinian Authority security and prison personnel against Palestinian prisoners.  As Khaled Abu Toameh recently reported:

As a report [by Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)] shows, there has been a 10% increase in the number of complaints of torture and mistreatment by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority during 2012 compared with the year before.

More than half of the 306 complaints about torture that were received last year came from Palestinians who had been detained or imprisoned by Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank, the report revealed.

Altogether, 11 detainees died in Palestinian Authority and Hamas prisons last year, according to the report.

One recent example of torture by PA security personnel was detailed in an April ICHR report.

The complaint of torture filed by Muhammad Abdelkareem Dar Muhammad, from Hebron, was one of the major complaints ICHR received in this regard. He claimed that he was subjected to torture and ill-treatment while detained by the [Palestinian] Preventive Security Agency in Hebron. On [April 28] 2013, he was rushed to the Public Hospital of Hebron for the second time after suffering speech impairment and injuries due to being subjected to beating on the head while hand-cuffed in solitary confinement throughout the period of his detention.

Yet, in contrast to the Guardian’s intense focus on one unsubstantiated accusation of torture in an Israeli jail, we were unable to find any mention at all by Guardian reporters or ‘CiF’ contributors of Muhammad Abdelkareem Dar Muhammad’s case, nor any of the other instances of torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners in PA jails.

Though we’ve often charged the Guardian with consistently engaging in ‘activist journalism’ – searching for evidence to buttress preconceived pro-Palestinian conclusions – this observation is likely only half correct. The ubiquity of reporting alleging Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians stands in contrast to the dearth of stories in the paper highlighting Palestinian mistreatment of fellow Palestinians – all of which suggests that advancing a narrative of Israeli oppression is of far greater concern to their reporters than genuine advocacy on behalf of Palestinian human rights.    

Will Guardian report on Palestinian prisoner who died in ‘Palestinian Authority’ prison?

H/T This Ongoing War

On Feb. 25 we commented on the Guardian’s coverage of the death of Arafat Jaradat in an Israeli prison.  

Phoebe Greenwood led her Feb. 24 Guardian report with completely unsubstantiated claims by the Palestinian Authority that Jaradat, an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member who was arrested on Feb. 18 due to his alleged involvement in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli, died as the result of torture.  

Jaradat’s death, and subsequent funeral, inspired several days of rioting in the West Bank. 

The Guardian published two stories on Jaradat’s death in two days.

pal prisoner

We noted in our post that Israeli pathologists involved in Jaradat’s autopsy were awaiting the results of tests which would help determine the cause of the death and whether there was any credence to charges that he was tortured.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, Israeli authorities published the first results of the pathologists’ tests. 

Times of Israel wrote the following:

The preliminary results of Arafat Jaradat’s autopsy reveal no signs of violence or poisoning, Israeli pathologists revealed Thursday, contradicting previous statements by a Palestinian doctor who attended the procedure.

A team of Israeli doctors headed by Professor Yehuda Hiss of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, Professor Arnon Afek, the Health Ministry’s Director of Health Administration, and Professor Iris Barshack, chief pathologist at the Sheba Medical Center, reported based on an examination of microscopic remains from the late Jaradat’s body that “no evidence was found of poisoning and no evidence was found of physical violence. According to a statement by the Health Ministry, Jaradat’s internal bleeding and fractured bones were characteristic of the 50 minutes of resuscitation attempts made by prison staff and emergency response staff to save his life. The forensic institute will continue to conduct examinations in order to determine Jaradat’s cause of death.”

Whilst the question of whether Greenwood, or anyone else at the Guardian, will update the story on Jaradat to include the latest evidence regarding his death is worth raising, another parallel event has occurred which may serve as an effective barometer on the consistency of the Guardian’s coverage. 

The following was reported at Ma’an News Agency on May 1.

A prisoner being held in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho died on Friday, a senior Palestinian official said.

Ayman Mohammad Sharif Samara, 40, died while being detained on charges of assault, Palestinian Authority attorney general Muhammad Abdul-Ghani al-Uweiwi told Ma’an.

He was arrested on Friday and transferred to a nearby hospital, where he passed away, al-Uweiwi said.

The PA attorney general denied that the prisoner was tortured or beaten during interrogations and said that an autopsy would be performed and the results made public once completed.

In addition to the question of whether Ayman Mohammad Sharif Samara will get a “hero’s welcome” by Palestinians after his funeral, it will be interesting to see if the Guardian devotes any coverage at all to the Palestinian prisoner’s death while in Palestinian Authority custody.

You may wish to Tweet the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, or Phoebe Greenwood, to pique their interest in the story.

UPDATE: An AP feed on the Guardian’s site carried this report on the death of Samara.

Guardian photo caption of the day: Palestinian ‘stones’ which somehow ignite

Today’s edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’ included a photo, by Atef Safadi of EPA, showing a riot near Ramallah related to the recent death of Arafat Jaradat.  Jaradat is a Palestinian arrested on Feb. 18 for committing acts of violence, and whose cause of death on Saturday in an Israeli prison is unknown. (There were three additional photos in today’s edition of ‘Picture Desk Live’ related to Jaradat’s funeral.) 

First, here’s the Guardian caption which accompanied the photo:

stone

Keep in mind the claim that Israeli soldiers were firing rubber bullets on “Palestinian stone throwers” when you see the photo:

West Bank clashes erupt after Palestinian detainee funeral

I’m no explosion expert, but my laymen’s eyes couldn’t help but notice the center of the photo where a small fire is raging.

Can ‘stone throwing’ cause fires?

Indeed, a brief search for additional photos from today’s riot identified the possible cause of the blaze.

photo

So, it appears that a fire bomb thrown by a Palestinian rioter may have caused the fire which ignited near Israeli soldiers.

Regardless of the cause of the particular fire seen in the photo, however, characterizing the Palestinians at the protest as merely ‘rock throwers’ is extremely misleading.

While Palestinian Authority leaders, or groups tacitly supported by the PA, may be initiating the recent “low-scale” conflict in the Palestinian territories, it seems certain that those responsible can continue to count on a compliant media which will employ language serving to significantly downplay the lethalness of such Palestinian violence.

The Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood ignores Arafat Jaradat’s terror affiliation

Israeli pathologists involved in the autopsy of a Palestinian prisoner named Arafat Jaradat, who died in Megiddo Prison on Saturday, are awaiting the results of toxicology tests (that might take weeks to receive) which may definitively determine the cause of death.

The death of Jaradat, who was arrested on Feb. 18 after residents in his West Bank village reported that he “was involved in a rock-throwing attack” that injured an Israeli, sparked rioting in Hebron and other cities in the West Bank – a characteristic rush to judgement by Palestinian radicals which mirrors the journalistic rush to judgement by Phoebe Greenwood.

Greenwood led her Feb. 24 Guardian report with unsubstantiated claims by the Palestinian Authority that Jaradat died as the result of torture.

greenwoodHere’s how the story is presented on the Guardian’s home page, employing inverted quotes around the words “tortured in prison” and deleting the qualifier, “says Palestinian Authority”.

Hebron

Greenwood’s piece begins thusly:

A Palestinian prisoner whose death in Israeli custody fanned violent clashes across the West Bank over the weekend was tortured before he died, the Palestinian Authority has said.

The results of an autopsy conducted in Tel Aviv were revealed at a press conference in Ramallah on Sunday evening after a day of angry protests across the West Bank and Gaza in which dozens were injured.

The findings contradict the Israeli prison service’s claim that Arafat Jaradat died on Saturday from a cardiac arrest.

A Palestinian doctor’s investigations found that while Jaradat’s arteries were clear, the state of his body suggested he had been beaten in the days before his death.

It isn’t until the fifth paragraph that the Israeli version is emphasized.

That contrasts with an Israeli health ministry statement that said that the autopsy found “no signs of external trauma … apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest”.

It said: “No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy. Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest. Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts. The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death. At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.”

Then, we’re treated to Greenwood’s selective bio of Jaradat.

The 30-year-old, a petrol station worker and father of two, was arrested on 18 February in relation to a stone-throwing incident in November during which an Israeli was slightly injured. [emphasis added]

However, unbeknownst to those who depend on the Guardian as their source for information on events in the Palestinian territories, when Jaradat wasn’t working in a petrol station and providing for his two children, he was evidently involved in other, far less noble pursuits.

According to multiple sources, including even the BBC and Arab sites such as Ahram Online, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, Jaradat was a member of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade – the terror group affiliated with Fatah.

Here’s the relevant passage from Ahram:

Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah national liberation movement, mourns with all pride its hero, the martyr of freedom, the prisoner Arafat Jaradat,” the statement said, in reference to Jaradat’s membership of the group.

Here’s Al Jazeera:

Palestinians said Jaradat was a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

Remarkably, even Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, reported on Jaradat’s ‘suspected’ affiliation:

Violent clashes with Israeli soldiers broke out after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat, a father of three and charged of affiliation with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in Megiddo Israeli prison Saturday as a result to possible torture during interrogation.

Whilst the PA’s motivation for propagandizing about Jaradat’s death is clear – and thoroughly consistent with what many believe has been their tacit encouragement for the increasing number of violent Palestinian confrontations with the IDF in recent weeks – Greenwood’s putative role as a professional journalist requires that she avoid ideologically inspired, selective reporting.  

Though we likely won’t learn the cause of Jaradat’s death for weeks, until that time we can be assured that subsequent Guardian reports on the incident will continue to ignore information which interferes with desired narratives invariably showing the deceased Palestinian prisoner in the most favorable light.