A Palestinian convict serving time in Israeli prison for his role in a deadly terror attack died of complications from cancer at a hospital in central Israel late Sunday, sparking accusations of neglect from top Palestinian officials.
Bassam al-Sayeh, who suffered from bone and blood cancer, died at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Beer Yaakov, according to the Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs Commission.
Sayeh, 47, had been convicted in Israel 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, a Shin Bet spokesman said.
He added that Sayeh did not physically participate in the attack.
The Israel Prisons Service confirmed in a statement that Sayeh had died. It said the Hamas operative had suffered from incurable chronic illnesses since he first came into its custody in October 2015.
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said in a statement that Sayeh served as a field commander in its ranks and was one of the perpetrators of the attack against the Henkins.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh claimed in a Facebook post that Israel neglected Sayeh’s health, accusing the Jewish state of “purposefully killing” him.
He did not provide proof to back up his allegation.
A spokesman for the Israel Prisons Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Shtayyeh’s assertion.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation in Sayeh’s death.
“Palestine is mourning the martyr Bassam [al-Sayeh], who died in an Israeli prison. We hold the Israeli government fully responsible and call upon the @IntlCrimCourt to begin an immediate investigation. Israeli officials must be held accountable,” he wrote on Twitter.
Several small demonstrations took place in cities in the West Bank on Monday to protest how Israel allegedly provided Sayeh poor medical treatment.
The Qassam Brigades said that Sayeh’s blood will not “go to waste” and vowed that a “curse would come after the occupier in the West Bank and on every cubit of Palestine’s land.”
Democratic Camp candidate Mossi Raz appeared to criticize Israel in a tweet for not allowing Sayeh to die in freedom, but later deleted it after Twitter users criticized him for not mentioning that authorities have said he was involved in the murder of the Henkins.
“Bassam al-Sayeh, a 47-year-old journalist from Nablus who was held in prisons in Israel since 2015, died in one of its prisons. Bassam was ill with cancer but he was not allowed to die in freedom,” he wrote in tweet he later erased. “Excuse me if I am being bothersome with marginal issues like Palestinian lives.”
“It is good that Mossi deleted the tweet,” fellow Democratic Camp candidate Ehud Barak tweeted. “It would have been better if the comments were not made at all.”