A Palestinian sentenced to life behind bars by an Israeli court died of cancer, which sparked widespread unrest amongst Palestinian inmate in several Israeli jails. Hunger strikes were also started after a Hamas member who was 64 years of age did not live long enough to possibly see an early release.
Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh was serving a life sentence for the past 11 years after being found guilty of attempted murder, weapons possession and being a member of Hamas. He had been diagnosed two months ago with esophagus cancer.
The prison service in Israel turned to its pardons committee to formulate the release of the inmate last week when his health took a drastic turn for the worse. However, he died at a local medical center prior to his paperwork being completed.
Upon the announcement of his death, a series of riots took place in the Ramon, Eshel and Ketziot prisons. Inmates banged on the doors of their cells and threw objects. Police were called by prison officials to help calm the inmates.
There were also demonstrations by Palestinians in the area of Hebron, where Molotov cocktails were heaved at police. The head of a Palestinian prisoner’s advocacy group, Qadura Fares, said that Israel should harbor the blame for the death of the prisoner because he was not released in time to be treated despite there being a number of requests for his release.
Last February, a prisoner named Arafat Jaradat aged 30 died apparently of cardiac arrest while at a detention center in the northern region of Israel. His death followed a lengthy interrogation and raised suspicions he was tortured. His death also triggered violent protests.