JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike over the death of a Palestinian inmate from cancer.
The inmates sent back their food on Wednesday morning to protest the death of Maysara Abuhamdieh, 64, from esophageal cancer. Many also had sent back their meals the previous afternoon in what was declared a three-day hunger strike.
Abuhamdieh died Tuesday at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Palestinian officials and Palestinian human rights organizations accused the Israel Prison Service of withholding medical treatment.
A Palestinian observer is set to be present Wednesday at Abuhamdieh’s autopsy; he will be buried in Hebron on Thursday.
Prisoners reportedly banged on their cell doors and threw objects at guards upon hearing of Abuhamdieh’s death. The riots occurred at Eshel Prison, where Abuhamdieh had been imprisoned, as well as at Ramon, Nafha and Ketziot prisons. Palestinians also threw firebombs and rioted in the Hebron area, according to Army Radio.
Abuhamdieh was sentenced to life in prison for recruiting an operative to carry out a 2002 suicide bombing attack on a Jerusalem cafe. He was believed to be working for the terrorist group Hamas.
He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in February and placed under medical supervision. The prison service last week requested a pardon for Abuhamdieh after determining that his cancer was terminal. He died before the procedure could be completed, according to reports in the Israeli media.