Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Hebron mourns the death of cancer stricken prisoner Abuhamdia

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By Leona Vicario - April 05, 2013
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [Hebron] [prisoners] [Maysara Abuhamdia]

Photos by Lazar Simeonov.


On Thursday March 4, more than 1,000 people attended the funeral of the latest prisoner to die under Israeli custody, 64 year old Maysara Abuhamdia from Hebron. He died on April 2 at the Soroka hospital in Bir Sabe’, where he was transferred to there from Eshel prison last month despite his suffering from throat cancer since August 2012. 

People coming from across the West Bank to give their condolences walked through the city carrying Abuhamdia’s body wrapped in a Palestine flag until they reached the Martyrs Cemetery in Hebron where he was buried. Banners belonging to different political factions included Fateh, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as well as communist parties were held up among the attendees. Palestinian Authority security forces also paid their respects as Abuhamdia was a former general in the Palestinian Authority's preventive security ranks. 

During the ceremony that took place after the noon prayer, some members of the al- Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -the military arm of Fateh- stood b the cemetery’s entrance. After the funeral rites, the group declared its total rejection against the ongoing Israeli threat to Palestinian political prisoners in jail. In their speech, they made reference to the resisting and fighting needs against the occupation and asked for the international community to raise awareness on the current Palestinian prisoners’ situation.

The schools and universities in Hebron started a strike at 10 am as a sign of mourning and some businesses were closed. Following the ceremony, hundreds of people gathered in the surrounding area of the Shuhada Street’s checkpoint, where violent clashes began between the Israeli occupation forces and protesters, in an exchange of rubber bullets and tear gas canisters from the soldiers side and stones coming from the Palestinians. 

Since Tuesday, Palestinians in Hebron have lead protests condemning Maysara’s death and yesterday carried out a general strike. Several protests erupted throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, some of them brutally repressed by the Israeli troops like in Anabta, Tulkarem, where teenagers Naji Balbisi and Amer Nassar were fatally wounded by gunshots died. 

Abuhamdia became the second victim of Israel’s prison system in less than two months, after Arafat Jaradat died as a result of injuries sustained caused by Israeli torture in Megiddo prison on February 23. 

According to the autopsy practiced by Palestinian and Arab doctors at the Abu Dis Institute of Forensic Medicine, Abuhamdia’s death is in complete connection with medical negligence. Issa Qaraqe, the Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, assured that Abuhamdia’s death is a “brutal crime” because Israel deliberately neglected to give medical treatment to the prisoner even when the authorities were aware about his medical condition, and stated that Palestine must join the International Criminal Court to stop Israeli crimes against prisoners. He also called for the establishment of an international committee to investigate the case, a petition supported by the Palestinian Initiative secretary-general Mustafa Barghouti. 

As the streets around the West Bank were on the brink of breaking out in protests against the ongoing mistreatment practiced by the Israeli prison authorities against the Palestinian prisoners, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the release of prisoners behind Israeli bars is the PA’s priority. 

“We cannot be silent about it... [We] have demanded the freeing of all prisoners, especially those arrested before the Oslo Accords, and the sick, child and women prisoners,” he said. “But the Israeli government, in its arrogance, does not care.” 

Just one day before of his death, some prisoners announced their intent to hunger strike if Abuhamdia would not be released due to his physical deterioration. On Wednesday, Ma’an News Agency reported that around 4,500 prisoners started a three-day hunger strike and 86 were transferred to different prisons by the Israelis authorities as a punishment for their protest.

According to Palestine News Network, over 700 prisoners are in need of medical treatment; 25 of them suffer from cancer.  

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