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Funeral held in Jenin for Palestinian prisoner who died in Israeli custody

Sept. 27, 2016 9:04 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2016 1:16 P.M.)
JENIN (Ma'an) -- Palestinians mourners and representatives of national Palestinian institutions attended a funeral in Jenin on Tuesday for Yasser Thiab Hamduna, who died of a heart condition in Israeli prison on Sunday after years of medical neglect.

The funeral procession set off from the Jenin Governmental Hospital towards the village of Yaabad, Hamduna’s hometown.

Among the participants in the march were Governor of Jenin, Ibrahim Ramadan, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe, member of Fatah’s central committee Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society Qaddura Fares, and several other leaders of Palestinian institutions.

Hamduna’ mother, along with Palestinian security officers, carried Hamduna’s body on their shoulders as security forces fired 21 shots into the air salute to him.

Mourners repeated slogans demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners, calling for national unity, and condemning the international community’s silence towards Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

Pictures of Hamduna were waved along with Palestinian flags. He was buried in Yaabad’s cemetery.

Yasser Thiab Hamduna's mother carries her son's body during a funeral procession in Jenin (Photo: 24fm, Muhammad Turabi)

Israeli authorities had delayed the return of Hamduna’s body, preventing a timely burial as well as preparations for a funeral “fitting for someone who struggled for so long,” according to the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs. The Jenin Governmental Hospital finally received the body Monday evening.

An autopsy conducted on Monday meanwhile confirmed that the cause of death of the 41-year-old was cardiomegaly, a condition in which the heart is enlarged and can lead to sudden cardiac death.

A statement from the Committee reiterated the accusation that Hamduna faced deliberate medical negligence by Israeli prison authorities and doctors, who were aware of the fact that he had been suffering from a number of health issues, including shortness of breath, heart problems, and ear pains.

He was severely beaten by prison guards in 2003 after his imprisonment in June that year, and had since been taken to the al-Ramla prison clinic a number of times after his health deteriorated, where lawyers and prisoners’ rights groups familiar with the case said he was routinely denied adequate treatment.

He finally underwent a cardiac catheterization surgery in Israel’s Afula hospital in January 2015, and continued to remain in a serious health condition after being denied the necessary medical checkups and was only provided anticoagulant medication as treatment.

According to the Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun, during his internment inside Israel’s Nafha prison, Hamduna had also gone on hunger strike in protest of his medical neglect and being held in isolation.

According to the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS), a total of 208 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons since 1967, with another eight dying shortly after being released due to medical negligence while in Israeli custody.

Israeli prison authorities have routinely come under criticism for their medical neglect of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, a “deliberate policy of neglect” has been maintained by Israeli prison authorities, “denying their responsibility in providing appropriate health care, and periodic medical checkups for prisoners and detainees.”

In August, a number of Palestinian rights organizations established a committee to follow the cases of Palestinians in poor health being held in Israeli prisons.

The organizations’ officials said that more than 700 Palestinian prisoners were suffering due to poor medical access, 150 of whom reportedly in serious health conditions requiring “immediate medical intervention.”

The Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies had previously estimated that some 1,000 sick Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons.
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