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Violent clashes at prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh's West Bank funeral

By Alistair Dawber

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.

Afterwards, at Hebron's central Al-Alhi hospital, where Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh's body lay wrapped in a Palestinian flag, it was a purely family affair.

After that, the funeral took on the appearance of a political rally.

From the hospital, Abu Hamdiyeh's body was lifted onto a truck, flanked by heavily armed Palestinian security officials.

 Hundreds of metres of traffic snaked behind the body, blaring out patriotic music and prayers.

Abu Hamdiyeh was convicted of planning to blow up a cafe in Jerusalem and died of cancer in Israeli custody on Tuesday.

He was also a Palestinian national hero and his death has sparked rocket fire from Gaza and clashes for three days on the West Bank. He had aggressive cancer of the oesophagus, but that didn't stop Palestinians blaming Israeli "negligence" for his death.

The convoy snaked its way to a mosque in the city, where masked members of the Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, fired into the air.

There were no reported injuries on either side, but the clashes were a blow for those that were hoping that the visit of Barack Obama last month would reignite the moribund peace process.

(© Independent News Service)

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