Home PodcastInayet Wadee Amnesty International Urges Release of Walid Daqqa’s Body to Grieving Family

Amnesty International Urges Release of Walid Daqqa’s Body to Grieving Family

by Thaabit Kamaar

Jerusalem, Palestine – After spending nearly four decades in an Israeli prison, Walid Daqqa, a prominent Palestinian activist, intellectual, and writer, passed away at 62 years old following a prolonged battle with bone marrow cancer. Despite efforts to fight the illness, many assert that his death was the result of medical neglect by the Israeli prison authorities.

In an interview with Salaamedia, Sahar Vardi, an anti-militarist activist and researcher based in Jerusalem, emphasised that Israeli authorities were fully cognisant of Daqqa’s deteriorating health but chose to continue his detention despite numerous calls from organisations for his humanitarian release. Vardi contends that this disregard for his well-being violates his fundamental human rights.

“He was supposed to be released last year, but they refused to release him. He was diagnosed with cancer, and his lawyer applied for the high court in Israel to release him based on health conditions. The Israel doctor confirmed that this serious cancer will not allow him to live for long. They were fully aware that Walid was going to die, and still, they insisted on keeping him till the last moment. This just reflects the oppression and the violations for the minimum basic rights of any human being that they didn’t allow him to spend at least one year or a couple of months or even a couple of days [with his loved ones].”

Reports indicate that Daqqa is among the 14 Palestinian prisoners who have died in Israeli custody since October, due to torture and medical neglect. However, an investigation launched by Haaretz suggests that the actual number of prisoners who died during this time is at least 27.

SMread| Unfazed Israel defies Biden’s ceasefire call, prepares for Rafah offensive

The Legacy of a Palestinian Hero

In 1986, Daqqa was arrested on charges related to the abduction and killing of an Israeli soldier, resulting in a 37-year prison sentence. Although slated for release last year, his freedom was delayed, extending his incarceration until 2025, a date that Israeli authorities undoubtedly realised he might not live to see.

Against the backdrop of the war, widespread famine, and destruction in Gaza, and heightened violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Daqqa’s passing represents a significant blow to Palestinians, compounding their despair during this tumultuous period. To them, Daqqa surpassed being merely a political prisoner. He was a son, husband, father, leader, and cherished individual.

Throughout his lengthy imprisonment, Daqqa transformed the prison environment into a centre of education, both as a student and a teacher, and supported his fellow inmates in various capacities. Additionally, he penned numerous books and articles detailing the Palestinian experience in Israeli prisons, offering invaluable insights for his community.

As a prominent figure in the Palestinian Prisoner Movement, Daqqa spearheaded advocacy efforts and resistance actions within prison walls, promoting academic and cultural enrichment. Despite the hardships he faced, his resilient spirit remained unbroken.

Vardi noted admirably Daqqa’s enduring optimism and unwavering commitment to his people. He continued to advocate for prisoners’ rights and fought tirelessly for their cause despite the challenges and suffering he endured.

“He faced all kinds of torture, harassment and intimidation that the prisoners face for such a long time. Still, he was always optimistic. He was always standing for others, supporting them and working to gain more and more rights for the prisoners as a collective inside the prison … But the most important thing is his message that your humanity is the most important thing in the world.”

Amnesty International has urged Israeli authorities to release Daqqa’s remains to his family to ensure he receives a dignified and peaceful burial befitting his legacy. He is survived by his wife, whom he married while in prison, and a daughter he has never had the opportunity to meet.

Related Videos