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Israeli crackdown as prisoners protest against colleague's death

February 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm

More than 30 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were reported to have been wounded by guards on Tuesday afternoon as they took part in a protest against the death in custody of their colleague Maysara Abu-Hamdiyya. Mr Abu-Hamdiyya died in an Israeli hospital this morning after suffering from cancer for several months. He had been denied proper treatment for his cancer – staff gave him painkillers and water – before his condition got so bad that he was transferred to hospital.

Immediately after his death was announced, prisoners in Israel’s Eshel Prison started their protest. A statement of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Forum said that security officers entered sections 10 and 11 in the prison and beat the prisoners for protesting. “The prisoners were hit by batons and had tear gas fired at them,” said the Forum.

For the first time in an Israeli jail, Palestinian prisoners burnt the Israeli flag and smashed CCTV cameras in Remon Prison. In a televised statement, it was said that prisoners across the Israeli prison system are likely “to explode” in “violent protest” against their conditions in jail. “We are hit by collective punishment,” said the prisoners, “and the Israeli Prison Service shows no respect for human rights and international conventions to which they have signed up.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians in several cities across the occupied West Bank took to the streets after hearing about Abu-Hamdiyya’s death. Medical sources in Hebron reported that 20 people were wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli occupation forces.

Palestinian factions in Gaza called for a massive demonstration tonight to protest against Israel’s mistreatment of prisoners. In a press conference, Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib called for the Arab world to take immediate action to stop Israel’s violations against Palestinian prisoners.

At the same time, Arab parliamentarian Haneen Al-Zoubi MK (Member of the Knesset) accused Israel’s Minister of Internal Security for Abu-Hamdiyya’s death. She sent Yitzhak Aharonovich a message pointing out that he had died after a long period of suffering during which he was denied proper treatment. A copy of her message was sent to the state comptroller and ombudsman Joseph Shapira.