Palestinian Prisoners Protest After Abu Hamdiya Dies

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners staged protests in "Israeli" jails on Tuesday as the Palestinian leadership accused "Israel" of deliberately delaying the treatment of a fellow prisoner who died that morning of cancer.

Maysara Abu Hamdiya, 64, a retired general in the Palestinian Authority security services, died in a hospital in southern "Israel" two months after receiving a diagnosis of throat cancer. Mr. Hamdiya was detained by" Israel" in 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian uprising and was serving a life ,according to the NYT.

Mr. Hamdiya’s death came amid efforts by the Western-backed Palestinian leadership to place the prisoner issue high on the diplomatic agenda, with the Obama administration calling for a renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Emotions over the prisoner issue have been running high among the Palestinian public in recent months, leading to protests in support of prisoners on hunger strikes and over the death of a prisoner in February under disputed circumstances.

The Palestinian Authority said Mr. Hamdiya had been suffering severe throat pain since August. In the days and weeks leading up to his death, Palestinian representatives blamed "Israel"for procrastinating in his diagnosis and treatment as they pressed for his early release.

The office of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said in a statement that it held the Israeli government “fully responsible” for Mr. Hamdiya’s death, which it said stemmed from a policy of “deliberate medical negligence.”

Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the authority, also accused the Israeli prison authorities of a “policy of medical negligence,” saying in a statement that the delay in treating Mr. Hamdiya “was a primary reason for his martyrdom.” He called for international monitoring of the conditions inside Israel’s prisons.

Prisoners in Israeli custody hold an honored place in Palestinian society, with many Palestinians regarding even compatriots convicted of deadly terrorist acts as political prisoners and fighters for the Palestinian cause.

With news of Mr. Hamdiya’s death, Palestinian prisoners in several Israeli jails erupted in anger, banging on cell doors and throwing objects.

Protests  also broke out in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Mr. Hamdiya’s hometown, where many stores closed in protest on Tuesday and a public hall was opened to receive mourners.