East Jerusalemites clash with police after inmate’s death
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East Jerusalemites clash with police after inmate’s death

Teargas used to disperse protest outside Damascus Gate; five people arrested after rocks thrown

Border Police guarding Damascus Gate last month (photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Border Police guarding Damascus Gate last month (photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)

Dozens of East Jerusalemites protested the death of a Palestinian prisoner Tuesday, with riot police called in to disperse the demonstration with teargas.

Five people were arrested following the demonstration near Damascus Gate outside the Old City. Protesters reportedly hurled rocks at police, drawing teargas fire.

Police said there were no injuries.

The protest followed a similar outbreak by Palestinian inmates earlier in the day, after security prisoner Maysara Abuhamdia died of cancer while in Israeli custody.

There were also several incidents of rock throwing around the West Bank. Officials said they fear the violence could crest on Wednesday with Abuhamdia’s funeral, Channel 2 reported.

Damascus Gate is seen as the heart of East Jerusalem and is the scene of frequent protests by East Jerusalemites.

Earlier in the day, prisoners banged on cell doors and hurled objects, prompting the Israeli Prison Service to reinforce personnel at Ramon, Nafha and Ketziot prisons, as well as at Eshel Prison, where Abuhamdia was an inmate.

Prison guards fired teargas to quell the disturbances, and Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said three prisoners and six guards were evacuated for medical treatment after inhaling the gas.

Abuhamdia was a Hamas operative sentenced to life by an Israeli court for attempted murder after he was convicted of recruiting a Hamas terrorist who plotted to carry out a suicide attack in a bustling Jerusalem cafe in 2002.

Weizman said Abuhamdia was treated well by specialist doctors and died in Soroka Medical Center after his cancer was diagnosed in February.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe accused Israel of medical negligence and demanded an international investigation into Abuhamdia’s death.

Palestinian activists said Abuhamdia complained of being sick six months ago, but was only hospitalized three days before his death.

MK Ahmad Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) said on Twitter that Abuhamdia died of the “cancer of occupation.”

In February, the death of Palestinian inmate Arafat Jaradat in Israeli custody sparked several days of violence across the West Bank, with Palestinians claiming Jaradat was tortured to death.

Israel said Jaradat died of a heart attack and that the signs of trauma found on his body were from resuscitation attempts.

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