Terminally ill Palestinian prisoner dies after 38 years in Israeli custody

Terminally ill Palestinian prisoner dies after 38 years in Israeli custody - World - News

Walid Daqqa: The Longest-Serving Palestinian Prisoner in Israel, Who Spent Nearly Four Decades Behind Bars, Passes Away at the Age of 63

Walid Daqqa, who held the distinction of being the longest imprisoned Palestinian in Israel and one of the few Palestinians to have been continuously incarcerated since prior to the Oslo Accords, passed away at the age of 63 due to cancer on Sunday. Daqqa’s unique case drew significant attention as his death marked a poignant reminder of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its human toll.

Born in the Israeli town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye in the northern “triangle” region, Daqqa was a Palestinian citizen of Israel. He spent almost four decades in Israeli prisons, making his case unique among Palestinian prisoners due to his prolonged incarceration. At the time of his death, he held the longest imprisonment record for a Palestinian in Israel, with the second-longest sentence overall, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society.

Daqqa’s Controversial Legacy:
In Israel, Daqqa was seen as a terrorist for his role in the killing of an Israeli soldier. However, to many Palestinians, he was a symbol of their struggle for liberation from Israel. The complexities of Daqqa’s legacy are rooted in the contradictions that defined his life and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Arrest, Conviction, and Sentencing:
Daqqa was arrested in March 1986 after being convicted of commanding the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) militant group, which was responsible for the abduction and killing of Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984. Although Daqqa did not directly carry out the murder, he was convicted of commanding the group and sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court.

Reduced Sentence and Charges:
In 2012, Israel reduced Daqqa’s sentence to 37 years. He was then charged with smuggling mobile phones to prisoners and received an added sentence of two years in 2023. Daqqa died before his scheduled release date of March 24, 2025.

Allegations of Human Rights Abuses:
During his detention, Daqqa faced numerous human rights abuses, including torture, assaults, deprivation, and isolation. The Palestinian Commission of Detainee Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoners Society have documented these allegations extensively.

Medical Negligence:
Daqqa’s health deteriorated in prison, with diagnoses of neuromuscular disease in 2015 and myelofibrosis, a rare form of bone marrow cancer, in 2022. In addition, he suffered from chronic pulmonary obstructive disease. Despite these critical health conditions, Israel failed to provide him with adequate medical care.

The Impact of Daqqa’s Death:
Daqqa’s death brought the total number of Palestinians who have died in Israeli custody since 1967 to 251, according to the Palestinian Commission of Detainee Affairs. His passing led to mourning and outrage, with Palestinians gathering in Baqa al-Gharbiyye for a tent mourning session that was stormed by Israeli police.

Israeli Response:
Israeli authorities maintained that the gathering took place without proper authorization, leading to the arrest of five people for alleged assault against law enforcement personnel. The Israeli police’s intervention sparked international criticism and concern over freedom of assembly and expression.

International Calls for Justice:
Amnesty International called on Israeli authorities to return Daqqa’s body to his family so they could give him a peaceful and dignified burial and allow them to mourn his death without intimidation. Amnesty’s Senior Director for Research, Advocacy, Policy, and Campaigns, Erika Guevara-Rosas, made the appeal in a statement.

The Legacy Lives On:
Daqqa’s legacy lives on through his writings, which Amnesty described as an act of resistance against the dehumanization of Palestinian prisoners. His passing marks a poignant reminder of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its human toll, leaving many to reflect on the complexities of peace and justice in this troubled region.