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Sabra Express | Death Sentence

Times of Israel, December 20th, 2022


Nasser Abu Hmeid, a founding member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, died of cancer in Israeli prison. He had been serving multiple life sentences since 2002 for killing seven Israelis during the Second Intifada.

The Context:

· Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, was active during the First and Second Intifadas. A wave of shootings and suicide bombings led the U.S. State Department to add it to a list of foreign terrorist organizations. Five of Hmeid’s brothers have spent time in Israeli prisons, while another was killed in 1994 during clashes with the IDF.

· Hmeid was arrested in 2002 along with Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader currently serving five life sentences for planning attacks on Israelis. Hmeid had also been found guilty of murdering five Palestinians who collaborated with Israel in 1990 but was released as part of the Oslo Accords [1]. Hmeid’s home has been demolished by Israel three times in retribution for the crimes of his family [2].

· Hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of masked gunmen firing into the air, took to the streets across the West Bank to protest. Hamas said Hmeid’s passing was a “serious crime” against the Palestinian people. Hmeid’s mother praised her sons saying, “people may call them terrorists, but I am proud of them for defending their country [3].”

· Israel is weighing whether to release Hmeid’s body for burial, fearing unrest and incitement at the funeral. Israel will likely hold the body as a bargaining chip for the return of 2 captive Israelis and the remains of 2 Israeli soldiers held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip [4]. Following a meeting with their families this week, Pope Francis committed to work toward bringing the Israelis home. Hamas has previously sought an exorbitant number of Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange.

Conversation Points:

· When does resistance cross the line into terrorism?

· Can governments justify releasing prisoners if they will likely go on to commit future crimes?

· Should bodies of convicted terrorists be released to their families?


3. Ibid.

4. Israel to hold remains of deceased Palestinian prisoner, Washington Post, December 21st, 2022

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