Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqa dies in prison after Israel refused to release him despite cancer

Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqa dies in prison after Israel refused to release him despite cancer
Prominent Palestinian intellectual Walid Daqqa, who has been imprisoned since 1986, has died in jail after Israel refused to release him despite his cancer
3 min read
08 April, 2024
Daqqa had been serving a prison sentence for his part in killing an Israeli soldier in 1986 [Getty]

Prominent Palestinian prisoner and cancer-stricken patient Walid Daqqa died in hospital in Israel  Palestinian authorities confirmed on Sunday, who accused Israeli authorities of "medical negligence".

Daqqa, from the Palestinian town of Baqa al-Gharbiya in Israel, died at 62 in the Shamir Medical Centre southeast of Tel Aviv.

He 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) 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. He repeatedly denied this however.

Though he was due for release last year, Israel extended his sentence and has kept him behind bars, despite his diagnosis with a rare form of bone marrow cancer in December 2022.

His health gradually deteriorated and he underwent surgery, before being transferred to hospital last month where he died.

The Israeli prison administration had prevented any visits to Daqqa since October 7 when the Gaza war started.

"All of the setbacks that Daqqa suffered came after his transfer from (civilian) hospitals to prisons, specifically the Ayalon Prison" in Ramla, the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Ministry and PPC said.

Both the ministry and the PPC said they had asked several organisations and countries to intervene in Daqqa’s case to help secure his release, but to no avail.

Legal attempts to have him released also failed as they were blocked by Israeli courts, which argued that his illness "wasn’t serious enough".

Amnesty International had previously called for his immediate release.

Daqqa, like all Palestinian prisoners, was transferred to different prisons since 7 October, including the Gilboa Prison, which has an infamous reputation for repression, torture, and abuse, the Palestinian detainees' ministry and PPC added.

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.

At least 12 prisoners have died since October 7 due to medical negligence in Israeli detention.

There have been numerous reports of the dire conditions and serious abuses against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons since 7 October, when Hamas launched a surprise air, ground and sea attack in southern Israel and Israel's indiscriminate war on Gaza began.

Israel has stepped up detentions across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, seizing thousands of people and often refuses to disclose the locations of the detainees. It has also banned any contact between them and lawyers and relatives.

Hamas says its attack – in which other Palestinian groups took part – came in response to decades of Israeli blockade and attacks on Gaza and injustices against the Palestinian people.

Israel has killed over 33,000 people in Gaza since 7 October, most of them women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

At least 459 Palestinians have also been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank since then.