JENIN (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoners held by Israel announced a three-day hunger strike in protest and mourning after a fellow detainee died in Israeli custody on Sunday morning following a fatal stroke.
Residents of the occupied West Bank village of Yaabad in the Jenin district, said that Yasser Thiyab Hamduna, a 41-year-old Palestinian from the village, died of a stroke on Sunday in the Israeli prison of Ramon.
Israel Prison Service (IPS) spokesman Assaf Librati confirmed to Ma’an that a Palestinian prisoner held in Ramon had had a “heart attack or stroke,” and was pronounced dead by medics at around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Local sources in Yaabad said that Hamduna, who was serving a 14-year prison sentence, had been suffering from a number of health issues, including shortness of breath, heart problems, and ear pains.
He was severely beaten by prison guards in 2003, and had since been taken to the al-Ramla prison clinic a number of times after his health deteriorated.
Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe said on Sunday that Israel beared full responsibility for Hamduna’s death, calling for an international investigation into Israeli crimes against Palestinian prisoners.
“This is a new crime to add to the numerous Israeli crimes committed against Palestinian prisoners,” he added, stating that 55 Palestinian prisoners had died in Israeli custody since 1967 due to medical neglect.
Qaraqe said that the committee would arrange all necessary procedures to obtain the return of Hamduna’s body in order for Palestinian authorities to conduct an autopsy.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies spokesperson Riyad al-Ashqar accused Israeli authorities of deliberately neglecting prisoners’ medical needs to torture and pressure them.
The Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) reported that prisoners started chanting "God is great" upon learning of Hamduna's passing.
The Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported on Sunday afternoon that IPS forces had raided a number of sections in Nafha prison and assaulted Palestinian prisoners, following a protest by the detainees over Hamduna’s death.
According to PPS, a total of 208 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons since 1967, with another eight dying shortly after being released due to medical negligence while in Israeli custody.
Israeli prison authorities have routinely come under criticism for their medical neglect of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, a “deliberate policy of neglect” has been maintained by Israeli prison authorities, “denying their responsibility in providing appropriate health care, and periodic medical checkups for prisoners and detainees.”
In August, a number of Palestinian rights organizations established a committee to follow the cases of Palestinians in poor health being held in Israeli prisons.
The organizations’ officials said that more than 700 Palestinian prisoners were suffering due to poor medical access, 150 of whom reportedly in serious health conditions requiring “immediate medical intervention.”
The Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies had previously estimated that some 1,000 sick Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons.