Amman working to bring Palestinian convict’s remains to kingdom
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Amman working to bring Palestinian convict’s remains to kingdom

Jordanian foreign minister says authorities seeking to bury Sami Abu Diak, a dual-Palestinian-Jordanian citizen serving three life sentences who died after bout with cancer

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

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)
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)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Tuesday said Amman was making efforts to bring the body of a Palestinian security prisoner who died in Israeli custody to the Hashemite Kingdom for burial.

Safadi made the comment hours after Sami Abu Diak, who authorities said was convicted by an Israeli court of voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, attempted murder and opening fire on people, died at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Beer Yaakov following a battle with cancer at the age of 35.

Abu Diak, who was serving three life sentences, was linked to the Palestinian Fatah faction and had been in Israel’s custody since September 2002, at the height of the second Intifada, the Israel Prisons Service said. The Associated Press reported he was allegedly involved in the killing of three Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli security forces.

“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, adding that Abu Diak’s family members requested that Amman do so.

“We are following the matter and will undertake all necessary measures [to achieve] that,” he said.

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

“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 in a phone call, referring to Abu Diak’s death. “They were still over there when he became a martyr this morning.”

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 last Thursday they were at an all-time low.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi delivers his speech during a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, conference, in Rome, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to questions about Jordan’s request.

Israel often takes a long time to release the bodies of Palestinian prisoners who have died in its custody, Hassan Abd Rabbo, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Prisoners Affairs Commission, said.

“There are many martyrs that Israel is holding onto in its morgue,” he said in a phone call, asserting that the Jewish state still possessed the remains of at least three Palestinians who died in Israeli captivity in the past year including Bassem al-Sayeh.

Sayeh, who died in September after a bout with cancer, was convicted by an Israeli court of authorizing and helping fund an October 2015 shooting attack on a West Bank road in which Eitam and Naama Henkin were gunned down in front of their four children, according to the Shin Bet security service.

A number of Palestinian officials accused Israel on Tuesday 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. “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.”

Abbas called Abu Diak’s father on Tuesday to offer his condolences, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

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 in a phone call, adding that authorities ultimately refused to do so.

Protests in the West Bank on Tuesday against settlements and the Trump administration’s statement last week that it does not view them as violating international law also featured posters with pictures of Abu Diak’s face.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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