Jordan says Israel released body of security prisoner who died in custody
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Jordan says Israel released body of security prisoner who died in custody

Jordanian Foreign Ministry says remains of Sami Abu Diak arrived following the Hashemite Kingdom’s ‘intensive engagement’ with Israeli authorities

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Protesters fly Palestinian flags and carry posters with pictures of Sami Abu Diak,  in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Nov. 26. 2019 (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Protesters fly Palestinian flags and carry posters with pictures of Sami Abu Diak, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Nov. 26. 2019 (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that Israel released to Jordan the body of a Palestinian security prisoner who died in Israeli custody last week.

Sami Abu Diak, who was convicted by an Israeli military court of voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, attempted murder, opening fire on people and other offenses, died at the Assaf Harofeh Medcal Center in Beer Yaakov on November 26 following a battle with cancer at the age of 35.

Abu Diak, who was serving more than three life sentences, was linked to the Palestinian Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade and had been in Israel’s custody since September 2002.

Court documents showed that he was specifically found guilty of involvement in the killing of three Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli security forces.

Hebrew-language media reported he was also convicted for the 2001 killing of Ilya Krivitz, a Jewish resident of the Homesh settlement, but the Abu Diak family’s lawyer Kamal Natour said in a phone call on Friday that he was not aware of Sami’s involvement in the killing.

Since Abu Diak died, Israeli authorities have not publicly confirmed his involvement in Krivitiz’s killing.

Terror victim Ilya Krivitz (Foreign Ministry)

“The body of the deceased, Sami Abu Diak, arrived Thursday evening through the King Hussein Bridge crossing for burial in the kingdom,” Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Fayez Daifallah said in a statement.

“The handing over of the body comes following intensive engagement by the ministry with Israeli authorities,” he stated.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in late November that Amman was making efforts to bring Abu Diak’s remains to Jordan for burial.

“The ministry started working this morning on transporting the deceased in order to bury him in the kingdom,” Safadi told a meeting of the House of Representatives, the lower house of Jordan’s parliament, on November 26, adding that Abu Diak’s family members requested that Amman do so.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, book in hand, and Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, left, during a visit to the Hatzor Air Force Base on December 3, 2019. (Twitter screen capture)

Last week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered security officials to prepare to stop releasing all bodies of Palestinian attackers, save exceptions, according to a statement from his office. Before such a policy can go into effect, it requires the approval of the high-level security cabinet.

Abu Diak, originally from a village near Jenin in the West Bank, held both Palestinian and Jordanian citizenships, Mohammed, a neighbor who asked for his last name to be withheld, said last week.

“His mother and father went to Jordan on Monday to call on the Jordanian government to pressure Israel to release Sami before he becomes a martyr,” Mohammed said at the time, referring to Abu Diak’s death. “They were still over there when he became a martyr this morning.”

Ragheb Abu Diak, Sami’s uncle, said on Friday that Safadi informed his family that the body was at a hospital in Amman.

“We highly appreciate the distinguished and nationalistic role Jordan’s king, foreign minister, government and brotherly people played in directly intervening with the Israeli side,” he told the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa.

Jordan is one of two Arab states to maintain a peace treaty and formal diplomatic relations with Israel, but relations have been tense in recent years, with King Abdullah saying in November they were at an all-time low.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Protesters fly Palestinian flags and carry posters with pictures of Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jail, Sami Abu Diak, who died of cancer, during a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 26. 2019. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Palestinian officials have said that Israel often takes a long time to release the bodies of Palestinian prisoners who have died in its custody.

Following Abu Diak’s death in late November, Palestinian officials accused Israel of failing to provide appropriate medical care to Abu Diak.

“I wish mercy for the #martyr Abu Diak who suffered medical negligence in the occupation’s prisons, and who was the victim of daily #oppression practiced against our heroic prisoners,” senior PA official Hussein al-Sheikh, who is a close confidant of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, wrote on Twitter on November 26. “We call on #international institutions to open an investigation.”

The Israel Prisons Service strongly denied the claims of the Palestinian officials.

“All of the prisoners held by the Israel Prisons Service, regardless of their status, receive complete medical care in accordance with their state of health and Israeli and international law,” it said in a statement. “Any claim other than the above is baseless and untruthful.”

Ramallah had asked international human rights groups to pressure Israel to allow Abu Diak to spend his final days with his family, PA government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said last week, adding that authorities ultimately refused to do so.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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