Palestinians held a general strike and demonstrations in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday following the death of a militant jailed by Israel and later diagnosed with cancer.
Israel’s prison service announced the death of Nasser Abu Hamid early Tuesday at a hospital in the Tel Aviv area, 20 years after his life sentence for murder and attempted murder.
Abu Hamid, 50, a leading figure in President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, has been treated in Israel since being diagnosed with lung cancer last year, but Palestinian officials have accused Israeli authorities of “negligence” in his care
Shopkeepers in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem closed their businesses on Tuesday, AFP correspondents said, while schools sent students home and protesters gathered in several areas of the West Bank.
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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said he was mourning Abu Hamid’s death “on behalf of the government and our Palestinian people.”
The prisoner died “following a deliberate policy of medical negligence” by the Israeli prison service, Shtayyeh alleged in a statement.
Fatah’s rival, the Islamist movement Hamas, called Abu Hamid’s death a “serious crime” against the Palestinian prisoners and people.
A demonstration was also held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, an AFP photographer reported.
Abu Hamid’s mother, Latifa, called her son a “martyr” and told AFP: “We thank God that we had the chance to see him and say goodbye.”
“It was a difficult time,” he said. “I told him, ‘Son, God bless you.'”
Five of Abu Hamid’s brothers have spent time in Israeli prisons for their roles in the violence, while another brother was killed in 1994 in clashes with Israeli forces.
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Nasser Abu Hamid was arrested in 2002 and tried alongside Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian leader currently serving five life sentences for allegedly plotting attacks against Israelis.
Abu Hamid had refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli court that convicted him.