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Abu Hamdiyeh's death raises tensions in Israeli jails

April 2, 2013 3:22 A.M. (Updated: April 4, 2013 12:58 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The death of a cancer-stricken detainee on Tuesday raised tensions in Israeli jails as Palestinian prisoners announced a three-day hunger strike.

Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, from Hebron, died in an Israeli hospital on Tuesday from throat cancer which had spread to his spinal cord.

Abu Hamdiyeh had accused Israeli prison authorities of medical neglect and said he was only being given pain killers. He was admitted to Soroka Hospital in late March.

Israel Prisons Service said disturbances had broken out in four prisons as the news spread -- in Ketziot, Eshel, Ramon and Nafha.

On Tuesday, prisoners from all factions announced a three-day hunger strike. Detainees in Eshel prison, where Abu Hamdiyeh had been detained, set fire to bed covers and later refused to return to their cells.

In Nafha jail, where prisoners had protested for Abu Hamdiyeh's release, detainees banged on cell doors at the news of his death.

Abbas, Fayyad condemn medical neglect

President Mahmoud Abbas held Israel responsible for Abu Hamdiyeh's death.

"The death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh shows the Israeli government's arrogance and intransigence over the prisoners," Abbas told reporters at the start of a meeting of his Fatah movement in Ramallah.

"We tried to get him released for treatment but the Israeli government refused to let him out, which led to his death," the president said.

"The Palestinian presidency holds the Netanyahu government responsible for the martyrdom of prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh," his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad also condemned Israel's "policy of medical negligence against Palestinian prisoners," in a statement from his office.

"Prime Minister Salam Fayyad expresses his deep sorrow and sincere condolences to the nation and prisoner movement for the death of prisoner Maisara Abu Hamdiya," the statement added.

Fayyad said Abu Hamdiyeh had played a distinguished role in the national struggle and that "his contributions to the just cause of our people will remain alive in our national memory and continued struggle for freedom."

The premier said the delay in treating Abu Hamdiyeh until the cancer had spread throughout his body was a primary reason for his death.

In Hebron, shops closed as Fatah announced three days of mourning for Abu Hamdiyeh.
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