(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent a message to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to calm the tensions building in the West Bank amid riots and stone throwing, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The latest riots and violence comes following the death of a Palestinian prisoner, Arafat Jaradat, and raises concerns that they will lead to further instability.
Israeli prison officials said that Jaradat died of an apparent heart attack and rejected accusations of mistreatment alleged by Palestinian groups. An Israeli forensics team will perform an autopsy, with a Palestinian physician in attendance, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian protestors threw rocks at Israeli soldiers in Hebron on Sunday, injuring one soldier.
The death of Jaradat comes amid heightened tensions over a group of four Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli prisons. Last week, Palestinians rioted in areas in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem in solidarity with the hunger strikers.
Nearly 4,600 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails on a range of charges, including involvement in terrorism.
Israeli-Arab columnist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote for the Gatestone Institute that the recent Palestinian rioting was part of what he considered to be a strategic escalation orchestrated by the PA ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East.
“Although the PA probably does not want an all-out confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis at this stage, some PA officials in Ramallah believe that a ‘mini-intifada’ would serve the Palestinians’ interests, especially on the eve of Obama’s visit,” Abu Toameh wrote. “The officials hope that scenes of daily clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank will prompt Obama to exert pressure on the Israeli government to make far-reaching concessions to the PA.”