Protests hit West Bank after cancer-stricken Palestinian dies in Israeli detention ‘due to medical negligence’

Protests hit West Bank after cancer-stricken Palestinian dies in Israeli detention ‘due to medical negligence’
Palestinian authorities have called for a 'day of rage' after a 36-year-old died in prison after being denied release on humanitarian and medical grounds despite suffering from advanced-stages of cancer.
3 min read
26 November, 2019
Tributes to Sami Abu Diyak flooded social media after news of his death [Twitter]
Anger erupted across the northern West Bank on Tuesday after a 36-year-old Palestinian with cancer died inside Israeli military jail with activists saying he lacked the appropriate medical care to deal with his condition.

Protests began in Silat al-Dahr, the hometown of Sami Abu Diyak, who died from kidney and lung failure on Tuesday morning after suffering from intestinal cancer for the past four years.

Israeli authorities kept Abu Diyak behind bars despite several appeals for his release on humanitarian and medical grounds as his health deteriorated in recent months.

Abu Diyak had served 17 years of a life sentence handed to him in 2002 when he was 19 years old. 

Israel's Prison Authority said he had been convicted for killing three people during the Second Intifada.

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The head of the Palestinian Commission of Detainees' Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, confirmed to The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that Abu Diyak died at dawn on Tuesday, in the hospital of Israel’s Ramla prison.

Abu Diyak had been diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2015. His condition subsequently deteriorated, which Palestinian media say is in part due to medical mistakes at the hospital in southern Israel where he had surgery to remove part of his large intestine.

"The death of Abu Diyak comes after months of warning [the Israeli authorities] about the seriousness of his condition, that he could die at any moment because of the medical negligence he was subjected to," said Abu Bakr.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, issued a searing condemnation of Abu Diyak's death, calling on Israel to take responsibility for its actions.

Abu Diyak is the 222nd Palestinian prisoner to die as a result of medical negligence since 1967, more than a third of whom did so in custody, Ashrawi pointed out.

"Sami is the latest victim of Israel's reprehensible policy of medical negligence against Palestinian prisoners, who also endure other grave violations of human rights and war crimes at the hands of their Israeli jailors, including torture," she said in a statement.

"Israel's notorious and well-documented mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, including minors, is morally, legally, and politically bankrupt. It fails to meet any of its obligations under international law and it flaunts its defiance of the UN-set minimum standards required for treating prisoners with abject disregard for Palestinians' humanity," she added.

Fatah, the political group which governs the West Bank, called a general strike in the Jenin governorate on Thursday and called on Palestinians to take part in a "day of rage" in protest also against the recent US announcement that it would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law.

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Shops were closed as protesters set fire to tyres and set up roadblocks flying Palestinian flags at the entrance of the nearby settlement of Homesh.

According to the Prisoners' Commission, unrest also broke out in prisons, with detainees refusing meals.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military has said it is on ‘high alert’ following the calls for a day of rage, deploying reinforcements to the West Bank.

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