Palestinian President Abbas mourns death of top official Qadri Abu Bakr in West Bank car accident

 July 2, 2023

Palestinians are in mourning, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, after a top official in the semi-autonomous government died unexpectedly in a car accident.

President Abbas issued words of condolences and high praise for Qadri Abu Bakr, who served as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s Detainees and Ex-Detainees Commission, following his death in the West Bank on Saturday, Palestinian news outlet WAFA reported.

A "strong freedom fighter" for Palestinians

President Abbas praised Abu Bakr as "a strong freedom fighter who has spent his life defending Palestine, its cause, its people, and its independent national decision."

"Abu Bakr has stood at the forefront, defending the causes of his country and his people in all areas of national action and struggle, and in the international arena, since the early times of the [Palestinian] national movement," he continued.

Abbas went on to extend his condolences to Abu Bakr's family, all Palestinians, and everybody else around the world who supports their bid to break free of Israel and be their own sovereign nation.

Killed in a car accident

The Times of Israel reported that Abu Bakr, 70, perished along with two other individuals in a multi-car accident in the northern West Bank on Saturday following an event in Ramallah to honor the children of Palestinian prisoners.

The outlet noted that Abu Bakr was a member of the ruling Fatah Party who had served since 2018 as the head of the PLO's commission on prisoners' affairs, from which he advocated on behalf of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel and defended the highly controversial payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists who had been imprisoned, wounded, or killed by the Israelis.

Aljazeera reported that the Palestinian Minister of Health, Mai al-Kaila, heralded Abu Bakr as a "brave freedom fighter" following the news of his death along with the two other people killed, a recently released prisoner named Bassem Sawan and his wife.

The Gaza-based Hamas terrorist group also released a statement to express that it "remembers the struggle of the Abu Bakr and Sawan, and their contribution to supporting the prisoners and their cause."

Aljazeera noted that Abu Bakr had been born in 1953 in the West Bank village of Biddya and spent 17 years in an Israeli prison after he was caught running guns in the West Bank. After his release, he was exiled to Iraq but eventually returned and joined the Palestinian government.

Questions raised about official "military-style" funeral ceremony and procession

The Palestine Chronicle reported on Sunday that Abu Bakr was buried in Ramallah in an official funeral ceremony that featured numerous top Palestinian officials, including President Abbas, and an armed honor guard that led the funeral procession in a march to the burial site.

That, quite predictably, didn't sit well with Israeli residents in the area, according to the Jewish News Syndicate, and questions were raised as to why the Israeli Defense Forces had allowed the armed Palestinian funeral procession to march provocatively past Jewish settlements.

Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, said of Abu Bakr, "This is a man who was a terrorist and spent 17 years in prison, was exiled to Iraq, returned during the Oslo Accords, and in his last position served as the acting minister for terrorist affairs and murderers."

He also demanded to know who had authorized the "military-style funeral" for the Palestinian official, which he claimed had "endangered the safety of the residents on a main road and … harm[ed] the sovereignty of the State of Israel in central Samaria."

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