Ramallah, occupied West Bank – The Israeli court posted a parole committee to review the possibility of an early release for the sick Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqa, 61, who was transferred to the hospital a few days ago.
“Despite his extremely difficult health condition … the court session to review the condition of early release for treatment purposes has been postponed to May 31,” his family said in a statement on Wednesday .
Daqqa, who is suffering from an advanced stage of bone marrow cancer, was transferred on Monday to the intensive care unit of the Assaf Harofeh hospital in south Tel Aviv due to further health complications.
Dozens of Palestinians took to the streets Tuesday night in Ramallah in the central Israeli-occupied West Bank to demand Daqqa’s immediate release.
Daqqa hails from the Palestinian town of Baqa al-Gharbiya within Israel and is one of the most prominent thinkers and writers of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement. He holds a master’s degree in political science and has written several books while in prison, including a children’s book.
He was imprisoned in Israel in 1986 for involvement in the killing of an Israeli soldier and sentenced to 37 years in prison, which he completed in March 2023 but Israeli authorities extended his sentence by two years in 2017 due to cases of smuggling cell phones. in prison.
“Walid Daqqa could lose his life at any time. His health is in serious danger. He cannot walk or speak properly. He also cannot breathe normally – he is on a respirator,” Ihtiram Ghazawneh from of Addameer Palestinian prisoners’ rights group told Al Jazeera.
“He completed his 37-year sentence. He is no longer someone who is in a security file. He must be able to continue treatment outside of prison, among his family, because even if he is released, it is not clear how long he will live,” Ghazawneh continued, adding that they “met with diplomats to press their governments for himself. release”.
Daqqa underwent surgery on April 12 where a large part of his right lung was removed. He was admitted to the Ramle prison clinic – notorious for its poor conditions – on May 7, and given only antibiotics and a series of physical therapy sessions, according to prisoner groups (PDF).
“Walid should be in the hospital, under constant monitoring and treatment. Not in the Ramle prison clinic which is not suitable for anyone who is sick, especially someone with a dangerous health condition like Walid,” said Ghazawneh.
On Monday, his family said in a statement that their only demand was for Daqqa’s “immediate release … he is suffering.”
On Tuesday evening, Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir said in a tweet that Daqqa “must end his life in prison”.
Palestinian Authority officials said such an “inflammatory statement” was “considered an official license to kill him”.
Daqqa began complaining of health problems in 2015, according to Addameer. Three years later, doctors recommended that he take regular blood tests, which the prison authorities refused. It was only in December 2022 that he was admitted to the hospital after a sudden deterioration in his health, where he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and declared in urgent need of a transplant.
He has not been able to afford the transplant operation till now.
In January 2023, a doctor who examined Daqqa’s medical condition said that without definitive treatment, he had an “average survival of about a year and a half”.
In mid-February, Daqqa suffered a severe stroke. Despite needing emergency treatment, he was only transferred to the hospital 11 days later. During that time, he lost at least 10 kilograms in one and a half months, and lost a lot of blood.
In March 2023, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) submitted an urgent appeal to the United Nations calling for the immediate release of Daqqa.
“It cannot be denied that the IPS [Israeli Prison Services] had a direct role, if not an exclusive role, for Walid’s life-threatening condition,” the appeal said.
“IPS deprived him of a timely bone marrow transplant – the only known course of treatment that could have saved his life, despite the recommendation of every consulting doctor,” it pointed out.
“Significantly, the instrumentalization of medical negligence as a tool to harm, demoralize, and punish Palestinian prisoners is a symbol of Israel’s illegal and inhumane prison system.”
In 1999, Daqqa got married while behind bars. He and his wife, Sana Salameh, welcomed their daughter Milad in 2020, conceived after her sperm was smuggled out of prison.
He is one of 23 prisoners held in Israeli prisons in violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which stipulated that all Palestinian prisoners held before the signing of the agreement would be released.
Walid Daqqa, a 61-year-old Palestinian writer, activist, intellectual, and political prisoner, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone marrow cancer in 2022. Walid is in dire need of urgent medical attention since then.#Libre_Walid_Daqqah pic.twitter.com/utZcewWQt9
– Addameer – the pronoun (@Addamer) May 23, 2023
In recent months, Palestinians and supporters have taken to social media to demand Daqqa’s release under the hashtag #Free_Walid_Daqqa.
Palestinian officials and rights groups have long documented and condemned a “deliberate Israeli policy of medical negligence”.
Israeli prison authorities have consistently delayed checks and urgent operations for Palestinian prisoners for years, according to prisoner groups.
Specialist doctors are not always available, except for dentists, and “over-the-counter painkillers are given as a cure for almost all health problems”, rights groups say. in a joint United Nations report.
‘Loss of prisoners every year’
On May 2, Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan died while in Israeli custody on the 87th day of a hunger strike against his repeated arbitrary arrests, sparking widespread outrage and prompting armed resistance group in the besieged Gaza Strip to fire rockets at Israel.
In December 2022, Palestinian prisoner Nasser Abu Hmaid also died in Israeli custody despite long-standing calls for his release and claims of Israeli medical negligence following his late cancer diagnosis. a year ago.
In 2020, four Palestinian prisoners died in Israeli custody.
“If Walid Daqqa is not released, he should be placed in an appropriate treatment environment,” Ghazawneh said. “The Ramle prison clinic is the same place where Khader Adnan was martyred. We do not want to continue losing our prisoners because of the way the work is conducted.”
Speaking to Al Jazeera at the Ramallah protest, former prisoner and hunger striker Mohammad al-Qiq said the international community should “at least send a committee to review Israel’s actions on our prisoners, which violates all international laws”.
“Every year we lose prisoners because of medical negligence, oppressive policies and international silence in the face of these crimes,” said the 41-year-old.