© AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed
A Palestinian woman holds a picture of Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, an Israeli-held prisoner who died of cancer while in detention, during a protest against his death in Gaza City on April 2, 2013.
A Palestinian prisoner sentenced to life has died of cancer in Israel, sparking unrest and a three-day hunger strike in several jails. The Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has blamed the death on Israel.
Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, serving a life sentence since 2002 for attempted murder, membership in Hamas and weapons possession, was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus two months ago.
The Israeli Prison Service turned to the pardons committee to carry out the inmate's release a week ago when his condition worsened drastically, but he died at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba before the procedure was complete.
His death set off a series of riots in the Ketziot, Eshel and Ramon prisons, with inmates banging on cell doors and throwing objects. Police had to be called to calm the unrest, with security stepped up in case of further incidents.
Palestinians also demonstrated over the death in the Hebron area, throwing Molotov cocktails at police. Qadura Fares, head of an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners, indicated to AFP that Israel is to blame for the prisoner's death because of its "refusal to release him for treatment," despite repeated requests, some of which came from abroad.