Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – Former Palestinian prisoner Hussein Masalmah has died, seven months after being released from Israeli custody due to illness related to leukaemia, with Palestinian officials accusing Israeli authorities of “medical negligence” over his case.
Masalmah, 39, died on Thursday in a hospital in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.
According to Palestinian prisoner groups, Masalmah had complained of severe abdominal pains while being held in Israel’s southern Naqab prison for two months before prison authorities agreed to transfer him to Soroka Hospital in Beer al-Sabaa, where he was diagnosed with an advanced stage of the blood and bone marrow cancer.
The Palestinian Authority’s Commission of Detainees Affairs said in a statement on Thursday that Masalmah had been “martyred” by the Israeli authorities’ “policy of systematic medical negligence” against him.
Similarly, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said it holds the Israeli occupation responsible for the former prisoner’s death, condemning what it said was the “crime of medical negligence”, long practised towards hundreds of ill prisoners in Israeli jails.
Thousands attended his funeral procession from the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital to his hometown of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem.
Israeli authorities released Masalmah on February 15, 2021, about a year before completing the 20-year sentence he was given in 2002 during the second Intifada.
He had been officially diagnosed with leukaemia on January 10.
Upon his release, Masalmah was transferred to Hadassah, an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem, where his health continued to rapidly deteriorate. He was taken to Ramallah Istishari Hospital a week ago, where he died.
There are 4,650 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails, including 200 children and 520 administrative detainees held without trial or charges, according to prison rights group Addameer.
Most Palestinians view them as political prisoners who are in detention because of the Israeli military occupation or their resistance to it.
According to the PA, more than 500 male and female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails suffer from illnesses, including dozens with cancer.
Palestinian rights groups have long condemned what they say is “deliberate medical neglect” and have documented the deaths of dozens of ill Palestinian prisoners while in Israeli custody since 1967.