Samih al-Qasim, a Palestinian Druze poet known across the Arab world for his nationalist writing, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer, a family friend said. He was 75.
Qasim died in Safed hospital in northern Israel after suffering from cancer of the liver for the past three years, Issam Khuri, a novelist and close family friend, told AFP.
He was best known for his nationalist poetry in which he passionately defended the rights and identity of Israel's Arab minority.
Signup to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Known as a "resistance poet," Qasim's poems were widely embraced across the Arab world as a symbol of steadfastness in the struggle against foreign occupation, with many translated into English and other languages.
"I have no love for you, death, nor do I fear you. But you are making a bed of a body and a blanket of my soul," he wrote last week as he was dying.
He was a contemporary of the late Mahmud Darwish, who was also born in a village in what later became northern Israel, and was widely considered one of the Arab world's greatest poets.
A long-time member of the Israeli communist party and resident of the northern village of Rameh near Safed, Qasim was arrested many times for his political beliefs.
He also worked as a journalist and was editor-in-chief of the Arab Israeli weekly, Kul al-Arab.