A leading member of Hamas in the occupied West Bank has died just one week after his release from an Israeli prison. Zahir Libada, 38, was in poor and deteriorating health upon his release. Prisoners' affairs organisations blame the conditions in which he was held by the Israelis for his death.
The head of the Liberation Centre, Fuad al-Khafish said that Libada was already in a coma when he left prison and did not regain consciousness before his death. A spokesman for the Solidarity Organisation, Ahmed al-Bitawi, drew attention to the fact that the Israelis do not release any sick prisoner except after giving written confirmation that he fell ill as a result of the treatment received in prison. Israel, he added, is afraid of the repercussions of a Palestinian political prisoner dying behind bars.
The head of the National Hospital in Nablus, Dr. Hesam al-Jehuri, confirmed Libada's death and explained his condition. The martyred leader entered hospital in a coma after his release last Thursday (24 May), said Dr. Al-Jehuri, and he was in a critical condition, suffering from kidney and liver failure. Despite the best possible medical attention, he succumbed to his medical complications and passed away.
Questions are being asked about the number of prisoners who are released by Israel and then die shortly thereafter. The Arab League has called for a legal inquiry into this issue, based on the experience of Mr. Libada, Zakaria 'Aisa, Waleed Sh'at and many others.
Messages of condolence have poured in for the Libada family, who backed the call for a judicial inquiry into the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the role of the Israeli government in these shameful events.
Zahir Libada was a leader of Hamas in Nablus. He had spent several years in prison before his death. In 1992 he was deported from his own country by the Israelis to Marj al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon, along with 414 of his Hamas colleagues as part of a crackdown on the resistance to Israel's occupation of Palestine.
MEMO Photographer: Ibtehal Mansour