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

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
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence