SAEER, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian man who died under disputed circumstances in Israeli custody was given a hero's funeral Monday, as thousands thronged his gravesite and Palestinian police fired a 21-gun salute.
Palestinian officials, citing an autopsy, said Arafat Jaradat was tortured during Israeli interrogation. Israeli officials said more tests are needed to determine the cause of death, and Israel's public security minister said he would allow an international expert to review the autopsy results.
The weekend death of the 30-year-old gas station attendant and father of two comes amid rising West Bank tensions that have prompted talk in Israel about the possibility of a new Palestinian uprising.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Monday he was consulting with security officials, while U.N. envoy Robert Serry warned that "mounting tensions present a real risk of destabilization."
In recent days, there have been frequent Palestinian protests in support of some 4,600 Palestinians held by Israel, particularly four inmates who've staged extended hunger strikes.
In a clash Monday, Palestinian medical officials said two Palestinian youths, one 13 years old and one 16, were seriously wounded by live fire. An Israeli military spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military policy, said the military was looking into the claim. He said protesters hurled "improvised hand grenades" towards a holy site in the Bethlehem area, endangering the worshippers inside, at which point soldiers fired at the legs of one Palestinian, lightly injuring him.
Israel's military has said it typically uses non-lethal means to disperse violent protests, but occasionally uses live fire when soldiers feel they are in a life-threatening situation. In recent weeks, Palestinians have increasingly complained of the military's use of live fire at protests.
The fate of the prisoners is sensitive in Palestinian society, where virtually every family has had a member imprisoned by Israel. Detainees are held on a range of charges, from stone-throwing to deadly attacks, and are seen as heroes resisting occupation. Israelis tend to view them as terrorists.
Palestinian and Israeli officials traded accusations Monday, each saying the other was trying to exploit the latest unrest for political gains.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel is trying to provoke the Palestinians with what he said are increasingly lethal methods by Israeli security forces clamping down on Palestinian protests.
"However they try to drag us to that place, we won't be dragged," said Abbas. "We won't be dragged, but they (Israelis) have to bear the responsibility."
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev alleged that Abbas' self-rule government in the West Bank is inciting violence against Israel. Palestinian officials have called for more solidarity rallies for the prisoners.
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