Israel to hold body of detainee Walid Daqqa as 'bargaining chip' for Hamas negotiations

Israel to hold body of detainee Walid Daqqa as 'bargaining chip' for Hamas negotiations
Israel has announced that it will hold the body of Walid Daqqa, who died after 38 years in Israeli custody, as a bargaining chip for negotiations with Hamas
2 min read
13 June, 2024
There was an extensive campaign calling for the release of Walid Daqqa before he died of cancer in Israeli detention [Getty/file photo]

Israeli authorities said on Wednesday they will continue to hold the body of deceased Palestinian activist Walid Daqqa as a "bargaining chip" for negotiations with Hamas, in the wake of a recent US ceasefire proposal approved by the UN Security Council.

Daqqa, a renowned activist and novelist, died of a rare bone-marrow cancer at the Shamir Medical Centre, southeast of Tel Aviv, while serving a decades-long prison sentence in Israel.

His body has not been released to his family by Israeli authorities since his death on 7 April.

In 1987, he was convicted of commanding a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) cell that killed an Israeli soldier.

Daqqa, who spent 38 years behind bars, had always denied the charges and rights groups spent years campaigning for his release, noting he was convicted under emergency regulations which require a much lower standard of proof than ordinary courts.

His health deteriorated significantly while in prison, and he was due for release in December 2022, but Israeli authorities extended his sentence.

Daqqa was Palestinian citizen of Israel from the interior town of Baqa Al-Gharbiyyah.

The Israeli cabinet has decided to hold all bodies of Palestinian citizens of Israel who allegedly carried out attacks until a decision is made by the government on the overarching policy on the matter, the rights group Adala said in an official statement.

Adalah, a rights group focused on the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, has since filed a petition as against Israel’s decision.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant reportedly instructed Israel's military commander to withhold Daqqa’s body as per his authority under Regulation No. 133(3) of the 1945 Defence (Emergency) Regulations, introduced by the authorities of the British Mandate for Palestine and incorporated into Israeli law.

This is the first time the policy has been implemented against a Palestinian citizen of Israel, as the Israeli Supreme Court approved in 2020 a policy permitting the military to withhold the bodies of deceased Palestinians from the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, who are alleged to have committed attacks regardless of the circumstances.