The cellmate of 37-year-old Raed Abdul-Salaam al-Ja’bari, who died on September 9th while in Israeli custody, has spoken out about Raed’s death, telling a lawyer that Israeli prison guards took his cellmate by force and, within 15 minutes, came back and told him that Raed was dead.Mohammad Said al-Azza had shared a cell with Raed, and said that the two were being transferred at the time of Raed’s death. The guards had taken the two men, along with a third prisoner, to a transport vehicle, and moved them to Eshel prison.
While Mohammad remained in the vehicle, the other two prisoners were taken inside the facility. Less than 15 minutes later, according to Mohammad al-Azza, the Israeli guards came back to the vehicle and told him that Raed was dead.
Al-Azza said that he began shouting in protest, and was pushed and kicked by the guards in the vehicle, and driven to the Israeli prison facility in Ashkelon.
Initially, Israeli officials denied having anything to do with the death of Raed al-Ja’bari, saying that he had ‘hung himself in a bathroom’. But Palestinian officials demanded an independent autopsy, which found that the young man had suffered a brain hemorrhage, and that his body showed clear signs of torture. In addition, no sign of injury consistent with hanging was found on his neck.
Mohammad al-Azza gave his account of the event to Nassim Abu Ghosh, a lawyer from the Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs department. The PA has demanded a full investigation and for consequences to be imposed on those responsible for the beating death of Raed al-Ja’bari.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement upon the death of Raed al-Ja’bari, calling for “immediate united action of the prisoners’ movement, through the prisoners’ national leadership struggling for the rights of the prisoners and the entire Palestinian people, and defying any attempts to divide the movement, which provides the enemy with opportunities to continue its policies against Palestinian land and people, including the prisoners.”