Thursday, February 9, 2023

Palestinians protest death of prisoner in Israel

Palestinians protest death of prisoner in Israel

RAMALLAH (AFP) - Palestinians on Tuesday held a general strike and demonstrations across the occupied West Bank following the death of a militant jailed by Israel and later diagnosed with cancer.

Israel's prison service announced early Tuesday the death of Nasser Abu Hamid in a Tel Aviv-area hospital, 20 years into his life sentence for murder and attempted murder.

Abu Hamid, 50, a prominent figure in president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement, had been treated in Israel since he was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, but Palestinian officials have accused Israeli authorities of "negligence" in his care.

Shopkeepers in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem closed their businesses on Tuesday, AFP correspondents said, while schools sent students home and protesters gathered in several areas of the West Bank.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said he was mourning Abu Hamid's death "in the name of the government and our Palestinian people".

The prisoner died "following a deliberate policy of medical negligence" by the Israeli prison service, Shtayyeh alleged in a statement.

Fatah's rival, the Islamist movement Hamas, called Abu Hamid's death a "serious crime" against Palestinian prisoners and people.

A demonstration was also held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, an AFP photographer reported.

Abu Hamid's mother, Latifa, said her son was a "martyr" and told AFP: "We thank God that we had a chance to see him and say goodbye."

"It was a difficult moment," she said. "I told him: 'Son, may God protect you.'" Five of Abu Hamid's brothers have spent time in Israeli prisons for their role in violence, while another brother was killed in 1994 in clashes with Israeli forces.

Nasser Abu Hamid was arrested in 2002 and tried along with Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian leader who is currently serving five life sentences for allegedly planning attacks on Israelis. 

Abu Hamid had refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli court that convicted him.