Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of several West Bank cities on Sunday to mourn the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), George Habash, who died on Saturday evening in the Jordanian capital Amman.
In the central West Bank city of Ramallah around 500 Palestinians gathered in the city centre, carrying Palestinian flags, banners and photographs of Habash.
A similar protest took place in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday afternoon. The protest started at the Duheisha refugee camp, which is a PFLP stronghold, located in the southern part of Bethlehem. The protesters then marched towards a local cultural organization which will be open for mourners to gather over the next three days.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced three days of national mourning starting from Sunday. In other West Bank cities PFLP followers also gathered in centres to mourn his passing. The centres will be open for three days for people to pay their respects.
PFLP founder George Habash died on Saturday evening in a Jordanian Hospital, a week after he was admitted to the facility following a sharp deterioration in his health.
Habash was born in the Arab Palestinian town of Lod in 1925 and was one of the most prominent Palestinian figures in Palestinian political history.
His Palestinian Greek-Orthodox Christian family was forced to leave Palestine after the 1948 war. Habash studied medicine at the American University in Beirut in Lebanon and, graduating in 1951 after specializing in pediatric medicine. One year later, he founded the Arab Nationalist Movement, calling for the unification of the Arab world against the Israeli occupation.
He worked in medicine until 1957 and traveled to Syria and then to Lebanon between the years of 1958 and 1963. In 1961 he married a woman from Jerusalem. He and his wife Hilda had two daughters.
Habash was forced underground in 1957 due to his political activities in Jordan. After leaving Jordan, he concentrated his activities on the Palestinian cause. He adopted the Marxist â€“ Leninist approach to liberation. He moved to Syria and stayed there from 1958 until 1963. From there he went to Lebanon.
In December 1967, Habash founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, along with Mustafa Al Zeery and several other leaders. He became the Secretary-General of the Front until 2000 and was succeeded by Mustafa Al Zeery.