Nasser Abu-Hamid, a convicted terrorist who died of cancer while serving seven life terms in Israel prison, died of lung cancer yesterday.
By Erin Viner
Outgoing-Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced this morning that the terrorist’s remains will not be handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
“After conferring with security authorities, it was decided that Israel will keep the body of Nasser Abu-Hamid for the purpose of negotiating the release of Israeli hostages,” Jerusalem’s top defense official said in a statement.
Hamas is currently holding captive the remains of two deceased IDF soldiers and two civilian Israelis. IDF Sergeant First Class Oron Shaul and Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin were killed in action during Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge conflict with Gaza. Their bodies were seized by the Islamist Hamas terror group for use as “bargaining chips” in any future prisoner swaps. Hamas is also holding captive Israeli civilians Avraham “Avera” Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom reportedly suffer mental impairment and crossed into the lawless Palestinian enclave at separate times on their own accord 2014-2015.
The deceased Palestinian prisoner was the co-founder of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of President Mahmoud Abbas‘ Fatah movement, designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. While also being arrested for terror-related activity during the 1987-1993 First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising), he was convicted of murders he committed during the 2000-2005 Second Intifada.
Abbas notably said during his address to the United Nations General Assembly last September that Palestinians were assuring “the heroic prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid and his companions that dawn is coming, and it is time for their chains to be broken.”
Abu Hamid’s family were allowed to come to his side at the Shamir Medical Center near Tel Aviv where he had been transferred on Monday after his condition worsened. “Thank God, his brothers and I were able to see him and pay him farewell,” his mother told Voice of Palestine radio, while expressing her hope his body would be released for burial.
“We demand that the occupation authorities hand over the body of the prisoner martyr,” PLO Executive Committee Secretary General Hussein al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter.
Immediately accusing Israel of responsibility for the death, the official WAFA Palestinian news agency reported that the PA President claimed Abu Hamid’s medical needs had been neglected, which Palestinian Prisoners Administration chief Qadri Abu Bakr called a “crime” being perpetrated against all “Palestinian security prisoners in violation of all international laws.”
Strongly rejecting the allegations, the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) insisted that said the 51-year-old patient “was treated conscientiously and continuously by medical staffers of the IPS and external medical professionals” for his lung cancer.
The political leader of the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, pledged in a statement that Abu Hamid’s death was “a crime that will not go unpunished.”
Other reactions included the declaration of a “Day of Rage” by Abbas as several terror factions called on Palestinians to clash with IDF soldiers and enact a general strike. Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli also reportedly declared a hunger strike. Armed members of Abbas’ Fatah faction rallied in the streets of Ramallah, with many firing weapons into the air while announcing formation of the new “Masked Lion” terror faction named for Hamid’s nom de guerre.