Hebron, 22 Jumadil Awal 1434/3 April 2013 (MINA) – The death in custody of a terminally-ill Palestinian prisoner, Maysara Abu Hamdiah, has sparked violent protests across the West Bank.
Tuesday’s protests were held in several cities following the death of a 64-year-old prisoner who had been suffering from throat cancer, PressTV reports as monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
In the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at nearly 300 angry demonstrators. Three people were reportedly injured in another demonstration held in East al-Quds.
Palestinian leaders on Tuesday blamed Israeli prison authorities for Abu Hamdiah’s death, saying that the prisoner did not receive treatment until his cancer had spread.
Acting Palestinian Authority chief, Mahmoud Abbas, laid the blame on Tel Aviv for denying Hamdiah healthcare.
“The death of Maisarah Abu Hamdiah shows the Israeli government’s arrogance and intransigence over the prisoners,” Abbas said.
“We tried to get him released for treatment but the Israeli government refused to let him out, which led to his death,” he added.
Abu Hamdiah was transferred to a hospital in Tel Aviv after he fell unconscious on Monday.
More than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israeli prisons, many of them without charge or trial.
On February 13, Abbas appealed to the international community to intervene in support of Palestinian prisoners on an open-ended hunger strike to protest their detention conditions in Israeli prisons.
Several demonstrations have been held across the Palestinian territories to show solidarity with the four men, who are experiencing deteriorating health conditions. The inmates were admitted to hospital on Friday.
The prisoners have been on hunger strike for months to protest against their administrative detention, a controversial practice used by Tel Aviv that allows the Israeli authorities to incarcerate Palestinians indefinitely without charging them or holding a trial.
Long-term hunger striker Samir Issawi on Tuesday sent his condolences to the family of Maisarah Abu Hamdiah, who died in Israeli custody after a battle with cancer. “Maisarah died for the battle of dignity and pride, which is fought by thousands of steadfast Palestinians,” Issawi wrote in a letter passed to his lawyer Jawad Boulus.
“Here we walk the path that would either lead us to dignified freedom, or to martyrdom for the soil of our land,” wrote Issawi.
After nine months on hunger strike, Issawi’s heart muscles are dangerously weak, and the low levels of minerals and salts in his blood could cause brain damage, medics said, according to the lawyer.
Issawi, who was transferred to the Kaplan Medical Center on Feb. 27, is determined to continue his strike and refuses any supplements in his water, Bulous added.
Bulous called for international intervention in Issawi’s case “before it is too late,” warning that if no action was taken, Abu Hamdiyeh would not be the last to die in Israeli prison.
Abu Hamdiah was admitted to Soroka Hospital in late March, after his cancer had spread from his throat to his spinal cord. Before his hospitalization, Abu Hamdiah had complained he was only receiving pain killers to treat his cancer.
News of his death sparked riots in several prisons in Israel and protests on Palestinian streets, as well as condemnations from across the political spectrum. (T/P01/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)