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The New Arab Staff

Palestinian father-of-six dies in Israeli prison

A Palestinian prisoner died on Wednesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 January, 2021

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Maher Deed Saasa, 45, from the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya, died in an Israeli prison on Wednesday.

A Palestinian father-of-six held in Israeli prison died of unclear circumstances, according to two Palestinian prisoners' advocacy groups.

The Prisoners Commission and the Prisoners Society said that Palestinian prisoner Maher Deed Saasa, 45, from the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya, died in prison on Wednesday.

They said that Saasa, who has been in prison since 2006 and was serving a 25-year prison sentence was suffering from several chronic illnesses. He received a coronavirus vaccine on the day of his death.

The two advocacy groups said that while Israel holds full responsibility for his death, just as for the life and well-being of all Palestinian prisoners in its jails, Saasa's issue will be followed on to find out the cause for his death.

Read more: Why is Israel denying Covid vaccine to Palestinians? Two words - Medical apartheid

The Israel Prison Service said Sunday it began vaccinating all incarcerated people against Covid-19, including Palestinians, following calls from rights groups, Palestinian officials and Israel's attorney general.

Israel has given at least one vaccine dose to more than two million of its citizens, a pace widely described as the world's fastest per capita.

But the Jewish state faced harsh criticism when Public Security Minister Amir Ohana said Palestinian prisoners would be the last to get inoculated.

Israeli and global rights groups, including Amnesty International, as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization have also issued public calls for Israel to vaccinate the estimated 4,400 Palestinians held in its jails.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, about 250 Palestinians in Israeli prisons have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced last week that the first vaccine doses would be distributed to prisons over the coming days.

The prison service issued a statement Sunday saying 20 detainees had been given an initial dose of the vaccine, without specifying whether they were Israelis or Palestinians.

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