PalestineHuman RightsMiddle East

Zionist regime refuses to hand over body of cancer-stricken Palestinian inmate

Israeli minister of military affairs Benny Gantz said on Wednesday the decision to withhold the body of Nasser Abu Hamid was made in accordance with the cabinet’s policy of holding bodies for future prisoner exchanges with Palestinians.

Following the announcement, Abu Hamid’s family said they will not accept condolences for the death of their son until his body is retrieved from the Israeli side and buried properly.

Abu Hamid was declared dead on Tuesday morning at the Israeli Shamir Medical Center, formerly known as Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) southeast of Tel Aviv.

He was transferred from the Ramla Prison Hospital to the medical center on Monday afternoon after his health condition severely deteriorated and he fell into a deep coma.

Abu Hamid was diagnosed with cancer in August 2021.

The 50-year-old Palestinian prisoner was wrestling with death as the Israeli prison service (IPS) continued to deny him necessary medical care.

He was incarcerated in 2002 and was sentenced to life imprisonment after an Israeli court found him guilty of participating in attacks during the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

Last September, Israeli doctors issued a medical report recommending Abu Hamid’s release, saying his lung cancer had reached an irreversible stage.

His family had appealed to all concerned international bodies to take urgent and effective action to save the life of their son.

A general strike was observed on Tuesday with stores, schools and businesses shut across the occupied West Bank to mourn Abu Hmaid’s death.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held the Tel Aviv regime fully responsible for Abu Hamid’s death, saying he died “as a result of the policy of deliberate medical negligence.”

In 2020, Israel approved a policy of keeping all the bodies of Palestinian prisoners who may have committed attacks against Israel, to use as leverage if Israeli soldiers were captured dead or alive. 

The practice has long been a source of pain for Palestinian families, who sometimes have to wait years before receiving the body of a loved one for burial. 

The policy contravenes international law, with the Geneva Convention stating that parties of an armed conflict must bury each other’s dead honorably, “according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged.

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