Palestinians on Tuesday accused Israel of neglect after a convicted terrorist died in hospital from cancer.
Nasser Abu-Hamid, one of the founders of Al-Aqsa Brigades - an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement - died on Tuesday at the Shamir Medical Center.
Ever since his cancer diagnosis became public, Palestinians have been campaigning for his release. He was serving multiple life sentences and had been in prison since 2002.
Abbas accused Israel of neglecting Abu Hamid's medical needs and held it responsible for his death, the official news agency WAFA said. Israel's Prisons Service said Abu Hamid, 50, had received "close and continuous treatment" for his lung cancer.
"He was treated with professionalism and in accordance with all medical procedures," they said in a statement.
The 51-year-old, who was once considered to be the right-hand man to Marwan Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian militant also serving a sentence, was convicted of at least seven Israeli deaths and sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences plus 50 years.
His four brothers are also serving life sentences in Israeli prison, while another brother had died in 1994.
Palestinians have criticized the fact that Abu-Hamid's mother was never allowed to see him. While his family was called just before he died, it is currently unclear whether he was still alive when they arrived.
The family home was destroyed multiple times by Israeli forces due to its involvement in terrorist acts, the last of which was in 2019, when Islam Abu-Hamid was convicted of murder of Israeli IDF soldier Ronen Lubarski.
Ever since his death was made known, the situation at Ayalon Prison in Ramla has been tense as prisoners announced three days of mourning.
Abbas, meanwhile, called Abu Hamid a hero. "He was murdered due to intentional medical negligence. His mother, warrior and mother of martyrs, Umm Nasser Abu-Hamid and her whole family serve as a model of sacrifice," Abbas said.
Abu-Hamid's mother said being a martyr "was Nasser's life ambition," and that he always made his will to follow in the footsteps of other martyrs known.
The indictment against Abu-Hamid stated that prior to the 2000 Al-Aqsa Intifada, Nasser was a member of the Fatah youth movement known as "the Shabiba" in Ramallah, where he assisted organizing protest against the visit of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Temple Mount, which was the catalyst for the intifada.
During the hearing which led to his conviction, prosecutor Nick Kaufman said: "The defendant became a killing machine before he was 20. He was sentenced to four life sentences in 1990, but was released in a deal negotiated with the Palestinian Authority."
"An Israeli pilot dropped a 1000KG-bomb on Gaza to target one man, killing 18 innocent Palestinians in the process. That pilot was never brought to justice, and neither was the commander who sent him," Abu Hamid said in his trial. "The destruction left behind made many want to sacrifice their lives for the cause. I've been in Israeli prison for 14 years and I still have Israeli bullets lodged inside of me. I will never give up and no Israeli court will make me change my mind. We will continue fighting for our freedom like any people would," he said.
His indictment also states that in late 2000, a Palestinian operative named Ahmed Andur approached Abu-Hamid and asked for a weapon to target Israelis. Abu-Hamid obliged and gave him his own AK-47 with ammunition. On December 31 of that year, Andur and a few others shot up a vehicle carrying an Israeli family with five daughters inside. Both parents were killed.
This was one incident out many that followed, all targeting Israelis by various means, including a Tel Aviv food market attack.
First published: 11:00, 12.20.22