Hundreds of Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces at West Bank funeral of prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Alistair Dawber joins prisoner’s funeral procession through Hebron


They came in their hundreds; first to hospital to pay their respects to their fallen comrade, and then on to the streets to throw rocks and roll burning tyres at the Israelis, who they blame for his demise.

Despite the masses at Hebron’s central Al-Alhi hospital, where Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh’s body lay, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, it was an intensely family affair. The heavily armed security guards who had allowed photographers and reporters to see the body suddenly melted away to allow his grieving family to kiss the body as they arrived – the only intimate moment of what became a very public event.

After that, the funeral took on the appearance of a political rally. From the hospital, Abu Hamdiyeh’s body was lifted on to a truck, flanked by more heavily armed Palestinian security officials. Hundreds of metres of traffic snaked behind the body, beeping horns and blaring out patriotic music and prayers.

Abu Hamdiyeh was a so-called security prisoner – convicted of planning to blow up a café in Jerusalem – who died of cancer in Israeli custody on Tuesday. He was also a Palestinian national hero. His death has sparked rocket fire from Gaza and clashes for three days in the West Bank. He had aggressive cancer of the oesophagus, but that didn’t stop Palestinians blaming the Israelis for his death. Outside the hospital, the Palestinian Minister for Prisoners, Issa Qaraqie, was clear who was to blame. “He died because of negligence – had they caught the cancer, he would have lived for many years. The Israelis didn’t give him appropriate treatment,” he said.

The convoy, headed by the body, eventually snaked its way to a mosque in the city where Fatah and Hamas supporters waved flags of their chosen faction. Masked members of the Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, fired repeatedly into the air.

Abu Hamdiyeh’s funeral had always been expected to spark protests and as people moved away from the mosque, clashes broke out at one of the main checkpoints in the city and hundreds of young men hurled rocks at the security forces. Tyres, later set alight and rolled towards the checkpoint to provide cover for the protests, were brought in vans. In response, the Israeli security forces fired multiple rounds of tear gas, some of the canisters landing on those in the streets.

As well as Hebron, there was also violence in Bethlehem and Tulkarem, where protesters flocked to the funeral of two Palestinians who were shot dead by Israeli troops on Wednesday evening near a military checkpoint. The Israelis said troops opened fire after rocks were thrown at them. The violence in the West Bank came hours after another rocket from Gaza hit southern Israel, the third consecutive day of strikes.

Despite the clashes there were no reported injuries on either side, but they nonetheless represent a blow for those that were hoping that the visit of Barack Obama last month would reignite the moribund peace process. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrives in the region at the weekend for further talks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the violence. “It seems that Israel wants to spark chaos in the Palestinian territories,” he said. “From the beginning, we have said we want stability and calm. Despite that, Israel on every occasion is using lethal force against peaceful young protesters, and peaceful demonstrations are being suppressed with the power of weapons. This is not acceptable.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel’s patience was growing thin. “If the quiet is violated, we will respond strongly,” he said. “The security of Israel’s citizens is my chief concern and we will know how to defend the security of our people.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing