Palestinians have begun three days of mourning for their national poet, Mahmoud Darwish, who died at the age of 67 after undergoing heart surgery in a United States hospital.
In Ramallah, where a state funeral will be held on Tuesday, and elsewhere in the Palestinian territories, flags are flying at half mast.
From Gaza, Hamas expressed their sorrow at the news.
In the West Bank, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas said: “The passing of our great poet, Mahmoud Darwish, the lover of Palestine, the pioneer of the modern Palestinian cultural project and the brilliant national leader will leave a great gap in our political, cultural and national lives.”
Darwish’s funeral is expected to be the biggest of its kind since that of Yasser Arafat.
Palestinian writer, Hassan al-Kashef, worked with Darwish in the 1980s.
“He represented Palestinian pain and experience since the Nakba in 1948 when he was a child, until the last breakaway in 2006 which he suffered as a pain in his heart,” he said. “We hope the absence of Mahmoud Darwish will help unite the Palestinian people.”
Darwish packed a hall just last month for a commemoration of the 1948 creation of Israel which Palestinians describe as the “Nakba” (catastrophe). The event drove him, and half the Palestinian population of the time, from their homes.