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Palestinian man convicted of selling land to Israeli Jews dies in PA custody

PA police say man died of an unspecified illness after two-week hospitalization; deceased had been held since 2012

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

Illustrative photo of Palestinians seen in Manara square at the center of Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, February 14, 2015. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Illustrative photo of Palestinians seen in Manara square at the center of Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, February 14, 2015. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

A Palestinian man who was convicted by a Palestinian Authority court of selling land to Israeli Jews died on Sunday in custody, PA Police spokesman Louay Arzeikat said.

The Palestinian man, who was serving a ten-year prison sentence for “illicitly trading lands to the enemy,” died in a hospital in Ramallah after “facing an illness” over the past two weeks, Arzeikat said in a statement, adding that the PA Police and Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation into the matter.

The statement did not provide details on the illness the spokesman said the man was facing and it only referred to him by his initials, M.E.

Arzeikat added that the deceased had been in the PA’s custody since 2012 and was transferred to the hospital on December 14.

Palestinian law considers attempting to sell or selling land to Israeli Jews a punishable offense. According to the law, possible punishments for trying to sell or selling land to Israeli Jews include various degrees of hard labor and imprisonment, as well as execution.

Louay Arzeikat, Palestinian Authority Police spokesman, speaking to an Arabic-language news outlet in 2017. (Screenshot: Al-Hadath)

However, the law requires that PA President Mahmoud Abbas approve any death sentence, and he has not signed off on any executions since 2006.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has said it wants to build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It has argued that the growing presence of Jewish settlers in the West Bank undermines the prospect of establishing a state.

Arzeikat said the man was also being held by the PA over “the falsification of official documents.” He did not clarify whether he had been convicted or sentenced on charges concerning that issue.

The spokesman did not respond to several phone calls seeking clarification about the man’s death.

A media official in the PA Attorney General’s Office said he had no additional details to provide on the man’s death as of Sunday evening.

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