Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were on hunger strike once again on Wednesday morning as part of a protest following the death from cancer of a fellow inmate, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Israel’s Prisons Service dismissed Palestinian accusations that medical negligence had led to the death of 63-year-old Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Hamas agent imprisoned for life after he tried to blow up a restaurant in Yerushalayim in 2002.
Prison officials said Hamdiyeh had full access to medical treatment since his diagnosis in February. The Prisons Service district commander in the south, Gondar Nasim Sabiti, told reporters that it had transferred him to a hospital and was considering an early release due to his terminal illness, and that the review process was underway when he died.
An autopsy of Hamdiyeh’s body was scheduled for Wednesday at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in Tel Aviv in the presence of a Palestinian observer. The body will then be transferred to the Palestinian Authority for burial.
Hamdiyeh’s funeral on Thursday in his hometown of Chevron was expected to trigger more violence. There were disturbances at several flashpoints on Tuesday, including among the Palestinian prison population, which numbers some 4,600.
Three prisoners and six guards were treated for teargas inhalation after rioting was put down on Tuesday.
Outside the prisons, Palestinians claimed that at least 24 people were injured during clashes with IDF soldiers in Chevron.
The IDF said that about 150 Palestinians threw stones and 15 Molotov cocktails at security forces.
The Prime Minister’s Office charged the Palestinian Authority with seeking to exploit Hamdiyeh’s death for political purposes.
“Unfortunately the Palestinian Authority is seeking to take advantage of the prisoner Hamdiyeh’s death in order to escalate the situation,” Ofer Gendelman, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman to the Arabic press, said.
Accusing the PA of “hypocrisy,” Gendelman said that while “Palestinian convicts in Israeli jails get top medical treatment and visits from the Red Cross; those who serve time in PA prisons get nothing.”