Israel is still holding body of Palestinian detainee Walid Daqqa: rights group

Israel is still holding body of Palestinian detainee Walid Daqqa: rights group
Israel continues to subject Walid Daqqa's family to 'abusive treatment by unjustly withholding his body', Israeli rights group Adalah said.
3 min read
16 April, 2024
Daqqa died of cancer, with Palestinians blaming Israeli medical negligence [Getty]

A rights group has urged Israeli authorities to release the body of Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqa who died earlier this month while in detention following a prolonged battle with cancer.

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, known as Adalah, said Israel was persisting in its "abusive treatment of [his] family by unlawfully withholding the deceased's body in a cruel and inhumane manner".

The group said it had filed a petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of Daqqa's family for the immediate release of his body.

The petition, filed by Adalah’s legal director, Suhad Bishara, and Adalah’s general director, Attorney Hassan Jabareen, argued that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) and the police were withholding Daqqa’s body "unlawfully, violating both his and his family’s right to dignity, and in breach of the rule of law".

The group said that every person had "a right to to a respectable burial without any undue delays is an integral part of the right to dignity, which is granted not just to the living but also to the deceased", adding that in withholding Daqqa's body, Israel was breaching "international humanitarian law, in international human rights law, and in Israeli Supreme Court rulings".

Daqqa, 62-years-old at the time of his death, was a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the town of Baqa Al-Gharbiyyah in central Israel.

He was arrested in 1986 at the age of 24. An Israeli court convicted him the following year of leading a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) cell which killed an Israeli soldier - a charge Daqqa had always denied.

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Daqqa spent the rest of his life behind bars, making him the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israel. Though he was due for release last year, Israel extended his sentence and has kept him behind bars.

Following his death on 7 April, Amnesty International blasted Israel saying his passing was a "cruel reminder" of Israel’s disregard for Palestinians' right to life.

"It is heart-wrenching that Walid Daqqa has died in Israeli custody despite the many calls for his urgent release on humanitarian grounds following," the rights group said in a statement last week.

"[His] death is a cruel reminder of Israel’s systematic medical neglect and disregard for Palestinian prisoners’ rights," the statement said.

"For Daqqa and his family, the last six months in particular were an endless nightmare, during which he was subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, including beatings and humiliation by the Israeli Prison Service, according to his lawyer," it added.

According to the group, even on his deathbed Israeli authorities displayed "chilling levels of cruelty" against Walid Daqqa and his family, as they denied him medical treatment and suitable food.

Daqqa, who has written several books while in prison, was one of a dozen Palestinian prisoners whose release was agreed upon in the 1993 Oslo Accords.

He was among the most prominent intellectuals in the Palestinians Prisoners' Movement.