GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The father of a deportee to the Gaza Strip died Saturday in the southern West Bank, relatives said.
Ahmad Mahmoud I’beiyat, 60, died in Beit Jala hospital, near Bethlehem, his son Jawad said. The two had been separated for nine years.
Twenty-six Palestinians who took refuge in the Church of the Nativity during clashes in 2002 were expelled to Gaza following Operation Defensive Shield, during which Israeli forces besieged the church and Bethlehem in a bid to locate Palestinian combatants.
"It was sad for me to hear that my father died before we could meet. He was so burdened that I had been deported for several years. And my brother is in jail. All of this affected his health," Jawad said.
I’beiyat suffered kidney failure for a year and a half before falling into a coma Friday and eventually passing away Saturday, Jawad said.