Skip to main content

Palestinian prisoner's death sparks protests in Israel, West Bank

By Kareem Khadder, CNN
updated 5:30 AM EDT, Wed April 3, 2013
Palestinian protesters hold up photos of Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, a prisoner who died of cancer while in an Israeli jail.
Palestinian protesters hold up photos of Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, a prisoner who died of cancer while in an Israeli jail.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maysara Abu Hamdiya, a retired Palestinian general, dies of cancer, sparking clashes
  • Palestinians accuse Israel of denying him proper treatment since onset of illness last year
  • Prisoners protest inside prisons, citizens demonstrate outside in Israel, West Bank

Jerusalem (CNN) -- A well-known Palestinian prisoner died of cancer in Israeli custody on Tuesday, sparking outrage among Palestinian groups who accuse Israel of denying him treatment.

Maysara Abu Hamdiya, 64, a retired Palestinian general, had been in Israeli prisons since 2002 and was serving a life sentence for alleged involvement in an attempt to bomb a Jerusalem cafe. He died Tuesday morning in an Israeli hospital after being admitted last week because of his deteriorating health, according to the Palestinian Authority's Government Media Center.

After the announcement of Abu Hamdiya's death, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails protested by knocking on the doors of their cells and refusing food, the beginning of what they say is a three-day hunger strike, according to a statement by the Palestinian prisoner association.

Abu Hamdiya had been suffering from throat pain since August 2012 and was diagnosed with cancer in January, the Palestinian Authority said.

West Bank, Gaza are worlds apart
Gaza future fighters and leaders
Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike

During a news conference about Abu Hamdiya's death, Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority's minister of prisoner affairs, said Abu Hamdiya died due to "deliberate Israeli medical negligence." He said more prisoners are being diagnosed with cancer.

"Israel is committing a new massacre against the Palestinian prisoners," he said. "Abu Hamdiya died due to deliberate medical negligence," Qaraqe said. Qaraqe added that Abu Hamdiya was handcuffed when he was admitted to the hospital last week.

Sivan Weizman, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Prison Service, denied the Palestinian allegations, saying, "We have provided all necessary treatment for Abu Hamdiya."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel had ignored all previous standing requests to release Abu Hamdiya and blamed Israel for not releasing him for proper medical treatment.

"The Israeli government in its intransigence and arrogance refused to respond to our efforts to save the life of Abu Hamdiya, which led to his martyrdom inside the Occupation prisons."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad strongly condemned the death of Abu Hamdiya and the continued policy of medical negligence of Israeli prison authorities against prisoners as the delay in providing them with proper medical treatment, a statement from Fayyad's offices said.

Among the prison protests was a demonstration in the Ramon prison in southern Israel, where prison guards used tear gas to break up the protests, the Israeli Prison Service said.

Weizman, the prison service's spokeswoman, said that "six guards and three Palestinian prisoners needed medical treatment."

Abu Hamdiya's death also sparked protests and clashes in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

In Hebron in the West Bank, where Abu Hamdiya was born, dozens of Palestinian protesters were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers, Palestinian medical services said. Protesters threw rocks and soldiers used rubber bullets and tear gas.

In Jerusalem, Arab Union medical services said that more than a dozen Palestinian protesters were injured outside the Old City when Israeli police broke up a solidarity protest, and several others were arrested.

The death of Abu Hamdiya is the second death in less than two months inside Israeli jails this year. Arafat Jaradat 30, died inside an Israeli detention facility in February.

READ MORE: Palestinians protest inmate's death, warn Obama

READ MORE: Palestinians blame Israel for prisoner's death

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
updated 2:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT