CAIRO - The death of a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody has fuelled anger across the occupied West Bank, amid warnings of a new uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation.
"Israel is responsible for what happened," Issa Qaraqa, Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, told a press conference cited by The New York Times on Sunday, February 24.
"I accuse the State of Israel of subjecting him to tough physical and psychological pressure.
"He was subjected to a heavy and severe torture."
Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat died in an Israeli prison on Saturday.
Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet, said Jaradat began feeling ill after eating lunch, while he was resting.
But family relatives say that Jaradat died of torture while in Israeli custody.
"When he was under interrogation, the interrogator told him, Say goodbye to your kids,' his uncle Musa told the news conference.
Jaradat was arrested Monday for throwing stones at Israeli cars near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.
His death has triggered protests in the West Bank and clashes between protestors and Israeli forces.
"Israel was responsible for his life," Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club, said.
Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad issued a statement expressing deep sorrow and shock over Jaradat's death, saying there was a need to promptly disclose the true reasons that led to his martyrdom.
There are nearly 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
Palestinians widely regard their prisoners as heroes of their national struggle against Israel and want them all freed.
Israeli and Palestinian officials warn that the prisoner's death could trigger a third intifada (uprising) in the occupied lands.
"We're facing an intifada," Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoner Club, told the Israeli newspaper Maariv.
"The hunger-striking prisoners and the tense demonstrations, the violent clashes during which Palestinian civilians are killed, and the frozen peace process all indicate that we're sitting on a barrel of dynamite.
"It may very well be that Jaradat's death will turn out to have been the match that lit it."
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a left-leaning member of Israel's Parliament echoes a similar warning.
"We are on the eve of an intifada, Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, said.
"I know these guys and I see the signs."
Alex Fishman, a senior columnist for the newspaper Yediot Aharanot, called Sunday for Israelis to please, wake up."
"The highway leading to an intifada is wide open, Fishman wrote, saying Jaradat's death is liable to become the opening shot."A Palestinian intifada rocked the occupied lands in 2000 following a provocative visit by then Knesset member Ariel Sharon to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine.