Palestinian prisoner dies of cancer, sparks unrest

Hamas member sentenced to life in prison in Israel for attempted murder, dies in hospital; Abbas blames Israeli negligence.

April 2, 2013 12:01
1 minute read.
Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison

Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison 311 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)


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A Palestinian prisoner serving a life sentence in Israel who had been suffering from terminal cancer died at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba on Tuesday, setting off unrest in a number of prisons.

The prisoner, 64-year-old Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, was a Hamas member from the West Bank who was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for attempted murder, membership in a banned organization, and illegal possession of firearms.

He was charged for his role in planning an attempted bombing of Jerusalem's Kafit Cafe in 2002.

According to the IPS, Hamdiyeh was diagnosed with cancer in February, and when it became apparent that his disease was terminal the IPS began the process of examining an early release for him, but he died before a ruling could be given on the matter.

The IPS said that after news of his death on Tuesday made it's 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.

Prison authorities were able to gain control of the situation, however six prison guards and three prisoners were lightly injured from enhaling tear gas.

Palestinians also rioted in the Hebron area at the news of Hamdiyeh's death, throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces.

On the official Hamas al-Qassam Brigades twitter page, the organization called for an "urgent solidarity march for the martyr" to be held in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Qadura Fares, head of an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners, accused Israel of responsibility for Hamdiyeh's death, due to its "refusal to release him for treatment," despite repeated requests, some of which came from abroad, AFP reported.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had attempted to gain Hamdiyeh's release as his health deteriorated.

"The Israeli government in its intransigence and arrogance refused to respond to Palestinian efforts to save the life of the prisoner," Abbas told members of his Fatah party in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Abu Hamdiyeh is the second Palestinian to die in Israeli custody this year. Arafat Jaradat, 30, died at Megiddo Prison in February. Palestinian officials said he had been tortured, an allegation Israel denied.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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