by Khaled Abu Toameh
What is surprising — and disturbing — is that the UN, the international media and human rights groups are willing to be complicit in this effort to prevent the outside world from learning about what is going on in Palestinian prisons in the West Bank. Once again it has been proven that a story that reflects negatively on the Palestinian Authority leadership has no chance of finding its way to the international media. But a story that reflects negatively on Israel will always be welcomed by the international media, human rights organizations and the UN.Six days after Arafat Jaradat was found dead in Israel's Megiddo Prison, another detainee died in a Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho.
Jaradat's death triggered widespread condemnations not only from Palestinians but also from international human rights organizations and the United Nations.
"The United Nations expects an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr Jaradat's death, the results of which should be made public as soon as possible," said Robert Serry, the UN Middle East peace envoy.
Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, issued a statement also calling for an international investigation into the death of 30-year-old Jaradat.
"The death of a prisoner during interrogation is always a cause for concern, but in this case, when Israel has shown a pattern and practise of prisoner abuse, the need for outside, credible investigation is more urgent than ever," Falk said in his statement.
The case of Jaradat has also won massive coverage in the international media, including BBC, Time, The Guardian and France 24. Even Jaradat's funeral drew scores of journalists from all around the world.
But when Ayman Samara, a 40-year-old Palestinian man, died in the Palestinian Authority's Jericho Prison a few days later, neither the UN nor the international media showed the slightest interest in his case.
Many Jerusalem-based Western journalists chose to ignore the story of Samara. Some claimed they were too busy to cover the death of the Palestinian man in Jericho Prison; others admitted their editors were simply not interested in this story because it was an "internal Palestinian issue."
In a further sign of double-standards, the UN has not called for an international and independent inquiry into the death of the Palestinian man in Jericho Prison. Nor have international human rights organizations, whose representatives reacted differently to the death of Jaradat in Israeli custody.
The Palestinian Authority has actively prevented Palestinian journalists from covering the mysterious death of Samara. One Palestinian reporter, who was caught interviewing people outside Jericho Prison, was even detained for several hours by Palestinian Authority security officers.
That the Palestinian Authority has been trying to prevent the media from covering the death of a detainee in one of its prisons is not surprising.
What is surprising -- and disturbing -- is that the UN, the international media and human rights organizations are willing to be complicit in this effort to prevent the outside world from learning about what is going on in Palestinian prisons in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority obviously finds the story of Samara to be embarrassing, especially on the eve of US President Barack Obama's visit to the region later this month.
The Palestinian Authority leadership would like Obama and the rest of the world to think that there are no human rights abuses in Palestinian prisons and that the only "bad guys" are the Israelis.
Once again, it has been proven that a story that reflects negatively on the Palestinian Authority leadership has no chance of finding its way to the international media.
At the same time, a story that reflects negatively on Israel will always be welcomed by representatives of the international media and human rights organizations, as well as the UN.
Khaled Abu Toameh
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