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Israel-Palestine war: Two workers from Gaza 'assassinated' in custody, says prisoners' group

Majid Zaqoul and an unidentified man died in Israeli custody amid widespread accounts of Palestinians being beaten and abused in detention
Majid Zaqoul was one of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza detained in Israel after 7 October (Social media)

The deaths of two workers from Gaza in Israeli custody have been confirmed by the Palestinian Prisoners' Club amidst widespread reports of abuse of Palestinian detainees.

Of the pair, one has been identified as 32-year-old Majid Zaqoul but details about the other prisoner remain unknown.

Thousands of Palestinians from Gaza were detained by Israel after the Hamas-led attack on 7 October, which left around 1,400 Israelis dead.

They had been in Israel on special work permits, which allowed them to take on employment within the state.

Middle East Eye has spoken to a number of Palestinian workers who were released from detention. They confirmed reports of abuse and poor treatment, which included beatings, violent interrogations about Hamas, humiliation and a forced march back to Gaza.

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They also said they had been sent back to Gaza on foot, despite the besieged enclave being under relentless bombardment, with one worker reportedly dying en route.

More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed, the majority women and children, in one month of Israel's bombing campaign on Gaza.

The Prisoners’ Club said Israel “assassinated” Zaqoul, who was held at Ofer prison, citing reports by fellow Palestinians that he had been subjected to abuse by Israeli authorities.

Israeli officials are also accused of concealing knowledge of his killing.

“In light of the horrific testimonies by workers who were released several days ago through the Kerem Shalom crossing, the martyr Zaqoul was subjected to a systematic assassination,” the Prisoners’ Club said in a statement.

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Middle East Eye cannot independently verify the cause of Zaqoul’s death and has contacted Israel’s prison service for comment on the case.

According to Palestinian media outlets, Zaqoul had suffered from cancer but it is not clear whether he had the illness at the time of his death.

He had previously spent three years working in the occupied West Bank and had spent the six months prior to his death working in Israel.

Zaqoul is survived by his wife and child, who both live in Gaza.

Previous deaths

There are no details about the other Palestinian who died in Israeli custody except that he was held at the Anatout military camp near Jerusalem.

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At least four Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli custody since 7 October.

Arafat Hamdan, 25, and Omar Daraghmeh, 58, were both from the West Bank and were taken prisoner in a mass arrest campaign that followed the 7 October attack.

The pair died at Megiddo prison and were reported to have been well before their arrests.

Israeli authorities have denied maltreatment in these two cases but Palestinians, including the men's family members, say that they died as a result of torture by interrogators.

According to the Prisoners’ Club, 240 Palestinians have died in Israeli custody since the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza began in 1967.

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