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Palestinian prisoner serving life dies of cancer


A Palestinian prisoner, who was serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail, died of throat cancer on Tuesday, the head of the Prisoners Club said. He was 64.

Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, died at Soroka hospital in the Israeli city of Beersheva where he had been taken at the weekend, the Ramallah-based group said.

"Prisoner Maisara Abu Hamdyieh died today. He had cancer," Qadura Fares, head of the Prisoners Club, told AFP.

Fares accused Israel of being responsible for his death due to its "refusal to release him for treatment," despite repeated appeals, some from abroad.

Abu Hamdiyeh, who was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to life in jail, began complaining of throat problems about nine months ago and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.

Israel Prisons Service (IPS) confirmed his death, saying they had begun a process for his early release due to his deteriorating condition.

"This morning at Soroka hospital, a security prisoner called Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh who was suffering from cancer, died," an IPS statement said, confirming he had been jailed since 2002 on charges of attempted murder.

"The prisoner was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in February and was under the medical supervision of experts at the hospital.

"About a week ago, after being diagnosed as terminal, the ISP appealed to the release committee to secure his early release, a process which had been started but not yet concluded," it said.

In recent weeks, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and prime minister Salam Fayyad made intense efforts to secure Abu Hamdiyeh's release in the light of his deteriorating health.

According to the Prisoners Club, some 25 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel are suffering from cancer.