The Palestinian Authority held Israel fully responsible for the death of
prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, on Tuesday of esophageal cancer, claiming
the inmate had died as a result of medical negligence.
immediately erupted in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and in Israeli prisons on
Tuesday over his death.
More violence is expected to break out at his
funeral in Hebron on Wednesday, although there is some possibility that the
funeral will be delayed until Thursday.
“Today, we were surprised to hear
about the martyrdom of prisoner Abu Hamdiyeh,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas told
Fatah leaders in Ramallah. “In the past, we tried to work to get him released
from prison so that he could receive proper medical treatment, but the Israeli
government refused to comply with our efforts.”
Abu Hamdiyeh, who was a
Hamas member, was given a life sentence by Israel in 2002 on charges of
attempted murder, membership in a banned organization and illegal possession of
firearms as a result of his role in the thwarted bombing of the restaurant
Caffit in Jerusalem’s German Colony.
Palestinian activists immediately
claimed him as a hero and a martyr, even though he died from esophageal cancer
in Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.
His death comes amidst
attempts to fan Palestinian violence in the West Bank, particularly around the
prisoner issue. The death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat, 30, from a heart attack in the Megiddo
Prison in February also sparked violent protests across the West
The Prime Minister’s Office charged the Palestinian Authority with
seeking to use Hamdiyeh’s death to foment confrontation.
the Palestinian Authority is seeking to take advantage of the prisoner
Hamdiyeh’s death in order to escalate the situation,” Ofer Gendelman, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman to the Arabic press, wrote on his
Accusing the PA of “hypocrisy,”Gendelman said that while
“Palestinian convicts in Israeli jails get top medical treatment and visits from
the Red Cross, those who serve time in PA prisons get nothing.”
Prisons Service said in response that it had done everything it could for
Hamdiyeh since his diagnosis in February.
The Prisons Service district
commander in the south, Gondar Nasim Sabiti, told Channel 2 that it had
transferred him to the hospital and worked to grant him an early release due to
his terminal cancer, including turning to the release board.
held one discussion on the matter and was supposed to hold another one this
week,” he said. But he added that to his sorrow, the process was not
The Prisons Service said that after news of Hamdiyeh’s death
on Tuesday made its way to the security prisoners, a number of them began
slamming on their cell doors and throwing trash in a number of security blocks
at prisons across the country.
At Ramon Prison in southern Israel,
inmates threw objects at guards, who responded with tear gas, the Prisons
Service spokeswoman said.
Three prisoners and six guards were treated at
the jail for tear gas inhalation, she said.
According to Palestinian
activists, the prisoners in Israeli jails declared a threeday hunger strike in
Outside of the prisons, Palestinians reported that at least 24
people were injured during clashes with IDF soldiers in Hebron.
said that stones and 15 Molotov cocktails were thrown at security forces by 150
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that in
the late afternoon a group of around 50 Israeli Arabs held an illegal
demonstration outside Nablus Gate in east Jerusalem, calling for the release of
security prisoners in Israeli jails.
Rosenfeld said the protesters threw
rocks and bottles at police, who dispersed them within minutes using stun
Nine protesters were arrested and no injuries were reported of
police or protesters, he added. In Ramallah, protesters carried photos of
Hamdiyeh, as they marched from the center of Ramallah toward Abbas’s office, but
were blocked by PA policemen, eyewitnesses said.
Hamas’s armed wing,
Izaddin Kassam, revealed Tuesday that Hamdiyeh was one of its top
“Abu Hamdiyeh was one of the heroes of Kassam,” the group said
in a statement. “He was one of the unknown soldiers who joined and trained our
fighters since 1989. He worked quietly to supply our fighters with weapons and
On Tuesday, MK Miri Regev (Likud), the head of the Knesset’s
Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, met with the head of Prisons Service
Lt.-Gen. Aharon Franco, who told her that the organization will hold an
investigation into Hamdiyeh’s death.
PA Minister for Prisoners Affairs
Issa Qaraqi said, “We don’t trust an Israeli autopsy,” Qaraqi said. “We will
conduct our own autopsy in the presence of foreign experts.”
Abbas told Fatah leaders that Abu Hamdiyeh’s death was a sign of “Israeli
intransigence and arrogance... especially against the prisoners in its
He said the PA has protested to the Israeli government and
various international organizations over the death of Abu Hamdiyeh.
will continue our efforts to liberate the homeland and the prisoners,” he
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh said, “We have been warning
against this for a long time. The continued incarceration of the prisoners and
medical negligence lead to grave repercussions.”
He called for the
release of all prisoners from Israeli jails.
An Israeli official in the
Prime Minister’s Office said that by blaming Israel for someone’s cancer-related
death, elements inside the PA “appear to be wanting to speak the language of
confrontation, not reconciliation.”
This was especially troubling, the
official said, coming so soon after US President Barack Obama’s visit to the
region, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry is looking for ways to restart
“I don’t understand what a
confrontation with Israel gets them,” he said. “I think it is a strategic
mistake in terms of being able to deliver things to the Palestinian
“Sometimes I think they are on autopilot,” the official added of
the PA leadership.
“Whatever happens is Israel’s fault. It is not
constructive, it is ‘old think,’ it is point scoring.”Tovah Lazaroff and
Reuters contributed to this report.