Israeli police demolish longtime prisoner Walid Daqqa's funeral tent and detain mourners

Israeli police demolish longtime prisoner Walid Daqqa's funeral tent and detain mourners
Israeli police attacked mourners attending the funeral of Walid Daqqa, who died after spending 38 years in Israeli jails, and arrested five people.
3 min read
09 April, 2024
Israeli forces removed the funeral tent outside Walid Daqqa's family home where mourners had gathered to pay their respects [Al Araby Al-Jadeed]

Israeli forces have cracked down on mourners going to attend the funeral of 62-year-old Palestinian intellectual Walid Daqqa, who died of terminal cancer in Israeli custody on Sunday.

Daqqa, who was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in December 2022, after earlier being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2015, was a prominent writer and activist. He spent 38 years in Israeli jails.

Local Palestinian media reported on Monday that Israeli forces attacked mourners visiting the family home and removed a funeral tent, arresting five people.

The family’s home is located in the city of Baqa al-Gharbiya, a majority Palestinian town situated in Israel, close to the occupied West Bank.

According to the report, four of those arrested later had their detention extended.

Two of those detained in the raid on the home and the funeral tent were relatives of Daqqa.

On Monday evening, Israeli police stormed the funeral tent, which was set up outside the family’s home in order to allow people to offer their condolences.

Israeli police used tear gas to disperse the mourners and forcibly removed people from the funeral site, beating some attendants.

Daqqa's family have requested that Israeli authorities release his body, saying that Israeli authorities have kept it, not allowing the family to properly grieve.

Amnesty International also blasted Israel on Monday, reiterating calls for his Daqqa's body to be released.

"It is heart-wrenching that Walid Daqqa has died in Israeli custody despite the many calls for his urgent release on humanitarian grounds following," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, Advocacy, Policy and Campaigns.

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Even on Daqqa's deathbed Israeli authorities displayed "chilling levels of cruelty" against the prisoners and his family, denying him medical treatment and suitable food, Guevara-Rosas added.

She added that Israeli authorities also prevented him from saying a final goodbye to his wife Sanaa Salameh and their four-year-old daughter Milad.

Guevara-Rosas called on Israel to immediately return his body to his family without delay so they could mourn his death "without intimidation."

Daqqa spent 38 years in Israeli captivity, where Israeli authorities repeatedly ignored his health issues, the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees and the Palestinian Prisoners' Club (PPC) have said.

Daqqa had been serving a prison sentence after Israel convicted him of commanding a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) cell that killed an Israeli soldier, a claim he has repeatedly denied.

Amnesty noted that his trial was held under a British Mandate-era emergency law and fell far short of the usual standards of Israeli criminal law.

Though he was due for release last year, Israel extended his sentence and kept him behind bars.

The Israeli prison administration has prevented any visits to Daqqa since 7 October, the start of the war on Gaza.

Attempts to have him released on health grounds were blocked by Israeli courts, which argued that his illness "wasn’t serious enough".

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. However, hours before he was set to be freed, Israeli authorities reneged on the decision.

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