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Palestinians continue to protest for release of Walid Daqqa

Palestinians continue to demand Israel to release of cancer-stricken writer and prisoner Walid Daqqa
5 min read
West Bank
05 June, 2023
"Waleed was diagnosed with cancer in the bone marrow after months of irregularity of medical controls by the Israeli prison services, despite the fact that he had already suffered a serious lung infection," said the Palestinian Prisoners' Club.
Palestinians intensified protests for Daqqa after an Israeli court refused his early release last week. [Getty]

Palestinians continued to protest over the weekend across the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Palestinian towns in Israel and Palestinian camps in Lebanon to demand the release of Palestinian writer and prisoner Walid Daqqa from an Israeli jail.

On Saturday, hundreds marched in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, demanding Daqqa's release, while on Sunday, hundreds of Palestinians protested in Daqqa's hometown of Baqa and the town of Araara, within the 1948 boundaries.

Protests in support of Daqqa renewed after an Israeli court refused to release Daqqa on humanitarian grounds following a parole session.

Daqqa was diagnosed with a rare type of bone marrow cancer in December. He was transferred to an Israeli civil hospital following a backdrop of his serious health condition before being transferred back to the Ramleh prison clinic in early May.

"We are demanding the immediate release of Walid, especially since the doctors' reports indicate that his condition is very critical," Sanaa Salameh, Walid Daqqa's wife, told The New Arab.

"The occupation's court transferred the early release demand to a special committee, which makes the case even more difficult. Walid needs proper medical attention and to be with us, his family, immediately," said Salameh. "We will appeal the court's decision, while we continue to increase protests across Palestine."

"All we can hope for is that Walid is getting a minimum of health attention in prison, as we can't have access to any information about his condition, except that his heart has weakened, which makes his condition even more critical," she added. "In these conditions, we need all the support for Walid's case in the street, in Palestine and across the world."

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club accused Israel of "medical neglect" against Daqqa, calling the Israeli court's decision not to release Daqqa "a decision to kill him", in a statement last week.

"Since the occupation transferred Walid Daqqa back to Ramleh, the medical neglect has become undeniable," Ayah Shreiteh, spokesperson for the Prisoners' Club, told TNA. "He was transferred after his health condition deteriorated significantly, as he is no longer able to walk or to speak."

"Walid was diagnosed with cancer in the bone marrow after months of irregularity of medical controls by the Israeli prison even though he had already suffered a serious lung infection," noted Shreiteh.

"What the occupation authorities are doing is to take Walid to a civil hospital every time his condition becomes life-threatening, then take him back to the prison clinic as soon as his condition becomes a little stable," she added.

Walid Daqqa is one of the dozens of Palestinian prisoners whose release was agreed upon in the Oslo Accords in 1993. Israel revoked his release at the time in the final hours, due to unspecified political reasons.

Earlier this year, Daqqa finished serving a 38-year-long sentence for having made part of a Palestinian armed cell in 1986 that captured and later killed an Israeli soldier. He was given an additional two-year sentence in 2018, on charges of smuggling phones for Palestinian prisoners, in which a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset was also convicted.

Walid Daqqa became known as a writer and thinker while in prison. He published several articles, novels and plays, and coined the philosophical term "parallel time" to describe prisoners' adaptation to reality in Israeli jails, as opposed to the "social time" lived outside prison.

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His most recent work, a novel for young adults titled, "The Oil's Secret Tale", published in 2018, tells the story of a child of a Palestinian prisoner, who magically becomes invisible through the help of an old olive tree's oil, and sneaks into Israeli jails to visit his imprisoned father.

Israeli authorities disrupted several launching events of the novel in Israel and banned Daqqa from receiving visits for a month, as a punishment, after the novel's publishing.

In 2020, Sanaa Salameh, Daqqa’s wife whom he married in 1999 while in prison, gave birth to their daughter, Milad, through smuggled sperm. Milad has had physical contact with her father only once, during a prison visit.

According to Israeli media, the family of the Israeli soldier killed in 1986 has been lobbying against his early release. The Israeli soldier family's campaign against Daqqa's release has also been supported by far-right Israeli politicians, according to Israeli media reports.

Currently, some 4,900 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, including 700 ill prisoners, 200 of whom have chronic diseases, including 24 with different types of cancer.