Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish has died after undergoing open-heart surgery at the age of 67.
Fellow Palestinians embraced his work as the voice of their struggle and suffering. President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning to honour the writer.
“Words cannot describe the depths of sadness in our hearts,” said President Abbas.
A fierce critic of Palestinian infighting, during a reading last year he condemned the violence between Hamas and Fatah as a public attempt to commit suicide in the streets.
As the news filtered through from Texas, where he was being treated, people gathered around candles in the darkened streets of Ramallah. The poet had made the West Bank city his home since returning from exile in the ’90s.
Palestinian TV interrupted programmes to air film of Darwish “the national poet” reading from his work. His body will be flown home for burial.