Palestinians protest for release of detainee’s body at mother’s urging

Nada al-Taher

The National  /  December 27, 2022

Unconfirmed footage showed Israeli security forces firing tear gas at protesters.

Protests are taking place across the occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza on Tuesday in response to calls made by the mother of a cancer-stricken Palestinian detainee who died in Israeli custody.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel would not return the body of Nasser Abu Hamid after announcing his death last week, in line with a long-standing Israeli policy of withholding the bodies of dead Palestinians.

“I want my son’s body and the body of all the detainees [in Israeli custody]. We want to honour them and bury them in Palestinian ground,” his mother told reporters. She was speaking at the starting point of the demonstration in Am’ari camp, east of Ramallah.

“I swear, I swear, I will never forgive anyone … My son was suffering for a year.”

Israel has been accused by Palestinian officials and international rights groups of “intentional medical negligence” that led to Mr Abu Hamid’s death.

He was serving seven life sentences and 50 years for his role in the 2001 second uprising against Israeli occupation, dubbed the second intifada. Local media said Mr Abu Hamid was the co-founder of the ruling Fatah party’s armed wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Unconfirmed social media footage showed Israeli forces attempting to disperse the protesters using tear gas.

In Gaza, the Palestinian National and Islamic Force, a coalition of groups opposing Israeli occupation, held demonstrations in front of the Red Cross’s headquarters calling for the release of Mr Abu Hamid’s body as well as those of other detainees who have died in Israeli custody.

The hashtag “we want our children” also gained popularity on social media the day before the demonstrations.

“The Israeli government’s detention of the bodies of Palestinian martyrs is a flagrant violation of the rules and principles of international law, and a crime against humanity,” wrote Mohammad Sabaaneh, a Palestinian cartoonist

Nada al-Taher – Senior Foreign Reporter