Za'bour in a black T-shirt holds his cell phone next to a group of young men from Balata refugee camp.
(photo credit: KHALED ABU-TOAMEH)
A Palestinian detainee who was held in a Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho died on Sunday in a Ramallah hospital.
The man, Ahmed Abu Hamadeh, nicknamed “Al-Za’bour,” was the leader of an armed gang in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. For several years, he was considered the PA’s No. 1 enemy in the Nablus area.
He was arrested several months ago by PA security forces in Nablus as part of a crackdown on gunmen in Balata, which is known as a stronghold for unruly Fatah activists.
Abu Hamadeh was transferred from the Jericho prison to the Ramallah al-Istishari Hospital 10 days ago, his family said in a statement. The family said that their 26-year-old son did not suffer from any health problems before he was transferred to hospital.
“The Palestinian security forces are responsible for his death,” the family said.
The PA governor of Nablus, Akram Rajoub, who had personally spearheaded the crackdown on the Fatah gunmen in Balata camp in recent years, was quoted on Sunday as saying Abu Hamadeh died of wounds he sustained during an exchange of gunfire with PA security forces who came to arrest him. A PA security officer was killed during the arrest, which took place about a year ago.
Rajoub said the PA had provided the best physicians to save the life of Abu Hamadeh. The PA, he warned, will not allow scenes of anarchy and lawlessness, and will take all necessary measures to enforce law and order in the Nablus area.
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Shortly after the announcement of Abu Hamadeh’s death, scores of Palestinians from Balata camp blocked the main entrance to Nablus and called for avenging his death. The protesters held the PA security forces fully responsible for the death of the fugitive.
Abu Hamadeh’s family said on Sunday they will not receive the body of their son until an official commission of inquiry is formed to investigate his death’s circumstances.
Earlier, a family member accused the PA security forces of poisoning Abu Hamadeh during his detention in the Jericho prison. He said the PA security forces prevented the family from visiting him during the 10 days that he was in the Ramallah hospital.
PA security sources said Abu Hamadeh was on the top of their list of wanted fugitives for a number of years before he was arrested in Balata camp. The sources said Abu Hamadeh was wanted for murder and possession of weapons, and was known as a leading arms dealer in the Nablus area.
Abu Hamadeh and several gunmen from Balata camp had imposed a rein of terror and intimidation on the local population for several years, according to the sources. They said the PA security forces had repeatedly called on Abu Hamadeh and his friends to lay down their weapons and hand themselves over to the PA. While several gunmen did turn themselves in, Abu Hamadeh was the only one who refused to surrender, the sources added.
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