A founding member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terrorist group convicted of killing seven Israelis and five Palestinian collaborators died of cancer in Israeli custody on Tuesday morning, Palestinian officials said.
Nasser Abu Hmeid, 51, was, diagnosed with lung cancer last August, and his condition has deteriorated since then with cancer cells spreading throughout his body including to his brain, according to the Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Commission.
The Commission, along with other Palestinian groups, accused the Israel Prison Service of negligence and deliberately killing Abu Hmeid, saying his cancer should have been discovered earlier and treated better.
The Prison Service rejected the allegation, saying the prisoner “received regular and close care from IPS medical staff and external professionals.”
In recent months, Palestinian groups have also called for Abu Hmeid to be released from prison due to his health condition and threatened to carry out attacks if he died in Israeli custody. Similar threats have been issued about other infirm security prisoners in the past but they rarely materialize.
Following Abu Hmeid’s death, some Palestinian groups called for a general strike in the West Bank, including the Palestinian Bar Association and General Union of Palestinian Teachers, who called for work to halt beginning at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
In 2002, Abu Hmeid, the right-hand man to arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, was convicted of murdering seven Israelis — Eliyahu Cohen, Binyamin and Talia Kahane, Gad Rejwan, Yosef Habi, Eli Dahan and Salim Barakat — in a number of terror attacks during the Second Intifada that he either personally carried out or directed from afar. During the trial, Israeli authorities described him as a “killing machine.”
He was also convicted of 12 counts of attempted murder and a number of other security-related charges and has been serving multiple life sentences.
He had also previously been found guilty of murdering five Palestinians who collaborated with Israel in 1990 but was released a few years later as part of the Oslo Accords.
As his health took a turn for the worse, Abu Hmeid was taken to the Shamir Medical Center on Monday, where he was given medication to control his pain.
His mother was in the process of getting permission to visit him in the hospital when he died, according to the official Palestinian news outlet Wafa. His family was previously allowed to visit him in the hospital in January after he underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his lung.