Sami Abu Diak’s death comes amid high tension as thousands of Palestinians rally against recent US settlement decision.
Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday to protest against the recent announcement by the United States that it no longer believes Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate international law.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 77 protesters were wounded by Israeli forces, with all of the injuries described as light to moderate and ranging from tear gas inhalation to rubber-coated bullet wounds.
Organised by Fatah party, the “day of rage” was observed on Tuesday to protest against the Trump administration’s announcement on Israeli settlements last week. The decision upended 40 years of American policy and embraced a hardline Israeli view at the expense of the Palestinian quest for statehood.
About 2,000 people gathered in the city of Ramallah by midday. Schools, universities, and government offices were shuttered and rallies were held in city centres around the West Bank.
“The biased American policy toward Israel, and the American support of the Israeli settlements and the Israeli occupation, leaves us with only one option: to go back to resistance,” Mahmoud Aloul, an official with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, told the crowd in Ramallah.
Demonstrators held signs reading: “Trump to impeachment, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to jail, the occupation will go and we will remain on our land.”
In the city of Nablus, protesters burned the US and Israeli flags for what they said was Washington’s positive bias towards the Israeli occupation.
The demonstrators came just hours after the death of a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody following a battle with cancer. Organisers also called for the protests – planned since before his death – to call for the release of Sami Abu Diak, 35, to allow him to die at his family’s side. Israeli officials denied the request.
Abu Diak had been imprisoned for 17 years since his arrest during the second Palestinian Intifada, or “uprising”.
The Palestinian Authority had reached out to European countries and the Red Cross to apply pressure on Israel to release him.
Previous deaths of terminally ill Palestinian prisoners have sparked protests and accusations of medical negligence on the part of Israeli authorities.
Violating international law
The US decision regarding the Jewish-only settlements was welcomed by Israeli leaders.
Palestinians and the majority of the international community say the settlements undermine hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up land sought by the Palestinians.
According to several United Nations Security Council resolutions, the most recent in 2016, Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.
Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and quickly began settling the newly conquered territory.
Today, some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the two areas, in addition to three million Palestinians.