Hearing delayed, returned to Ramleh prison: Occupation targets Walid Daqqah’s life and health

On Thursday, 25 May, the Israeli occupation prison system once again removed Palestinian prisoner, intellectual and freedom fighter, Walid Daqqah, suffering from the rare cancer myelofibrosis and a number of severe health complications, from Assaf Harofeh civilian hospital to the infamous Ramleh prison clinic, putting his life and health at even more severe risk. The extreme disregard and systematic medical neglect shown to Walid Daqqah indicates an attempt at his assassination by the occupation regime, which continues to deny him access to proper medical treatment. 

This comes one day after an Israeli court ordered a one-week delay, on 24 May, of a planned hearing on Daqqah’s lawyer’s and family’s appeal for his immediate release. Rather than hearing information and taking action, the court ordered a one-week delay — reminiscent of the constant delays ordered by Zionist courts in the case of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan, who lost his life after 86 days on hunger strike. Khader Adnan’s martyrdom came one day after yet another week-long delay ordered by an occupation court.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners went on a one-day hunger strike on 15 May for his release, while his fellow severely ill prisoners in the Ramleh prison clinic have been organizing to demand his release as well. The Palestinian prisoners’ movement is escalating its steps of struggle to resist attacks on the prisoners, particularly the continued medical abuse of Walid Daqqah.

Daqqah’s family and official campaign once again emphasized their clear demand for his immediate release, noting that it is impossible for him to receive proper treatment within the occupation prison system. This call is borne out by his forced return once again to the Ramleh prison clinic, described by the prisoners held there as a “slaughterhouse,” despite his severe health deterioration and the constant risk to his life.

Daqqah’s 37-year sentence in occupation prison expired in March 2023, but an additional two-year sentence was imposed upon him, allegedly for being involved in bringing mobile phones into the occupation prisons. While he struggles for his life, the infamous Zionist minister Itamar Ben Gvir, known for his fascist pronouncements and ideology, declared that Daqqah’s “life must end in prison,” a clear threat of assassination against Daqqah; Ben Gvir directs the prison system in which he is held captive.

The targeting of Walid Daqqah follows the martyrdom of Khader Adnan on 2 May as well as the December 2022 death of Nasser Abu Hmaid, another Palestinian prisoner and freedom fighter repeatedly denied release as he battled cancer inside the occupation prisons.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins the family of Walid Daqqah, the campaign for his freedom and the entire Palestinian people in demanding his immediate release, the only way in which he can receive proper treatment without restrictions. The Israeli prison administration and the Zionist regime hold full responsibility for his life as they continue to deny him an appropriate environment to treat his rare cancer.

Daqqah was diagnosed with myelofibrosis in December 2022, following a leukemia diagnosis 10 years before. Daqqah, 62, has been imprisoned since 25 March 1986. Sentenced to 37 years in occupation prisons, he should have been released in March of this year (2023), except for an additional two-year punitive sentence added on to his prison sentence, allegedly related to accessing mobile phones inside occupation prisons. Walid needs intensive health treatment for the lungs, kidneys and blood, and he also needs a very sensitive bone marrow transplant procedure (noting that more than one donor is available). This requires a therapeutic environment that is not available at a minimum level, in light of the conditions of his captivity and the strict guarding practiced by the prison administration.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council noted, about his medical condition:

The only curative treatment for Walid is a bone marrow transplant—one of the most difficult and dangerous medical procedures currently known. Gatt also recommended that Walid be put in a clean place where exposure to infections can be minimized, neither of which is possible inside the miserable conditions offered by Israeli prisons.

In mid-February 2023, Walid suffered from a severe cardiovascular stroke that led to a physical injury on his chest. Not only did the IPS in Askalan prison refuse to transfer him to a hospital for emergency treatment, the in-house prison clinic, despite diagnosing a blood clot as the cause of the stroke, refused to provide him with a necessary blood transfusion. Consequently, Walid lost a lot of blood through a minor tongue wound in the days that followed. Further, his medical records indicated that he lost over 10 kilos (22 pounds) in one and a half months. Only after his hematologist visited Askalan for a routine appointment, nearly two weeks after the stroke, was Walid finally transferred to Barzilai Medical Center. Similarly, as Walid developed symptoms of severe pneumonia over the past couple of weeks, the IPS once again ignored his health and evaded hospital admission until his lawyers and doctors intervened. Walid is currently being held in a private room at Barzilai, suffering from pneumonia, kidney failure, and a life-threatening drop in blood cell count.

Daqqah obtained a master’s degree in political science and wrote several books while behind bars, in the realm of political theory as well as fiction, including children’s fiction. On multiple occasions, he has faced harsh repression, including solitary confinement, especially targeted toward his expressive work. For example, Daqqah was thrown into solitary confinement when he published a new children’s book, “The Secret of Oil”; a launch event for the book in the town of Majd al-Kurum was shut down by far-right Israeli minister Aryeh Deri. In the preface to the book, Daqqah wrote, “I write until I am freed from prison, with the hope of freeing the prison from me.” This followed the defunding of a Haifa Palestinian theater that exhibited a play based on his work “Parallel Time.” His family’s official campaign page asserts:

“In spite of all the injustices and discriminations inflicted upon Daqqah throughout the 37 years of his incarceration, he has managed remarkable achievements that have made him in to the political, intellectual and cultural icon that he is. He has been a leader among the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement and is a prominent figure in the Palestinian, Arab and international cultural scene, in particular in the field of prison studies. Even his intellectual life has been deemed dangerous as prisoner authorities subjected Daqqah to extra punishment due to his political, social and intellectual activism, in particular solitary confinement.

Daqqah is a prolific author. Among his works: Testimonies of Resistance: The Battle of Jenin Camp 2002 (2004); Consciousness Molded or the Re-identification of Torture (2010); The Story of the Forgotten in Parallel Time (2011); The Oil’s Secret Tale (2018); The Sword’s Secret Tale (2021); The Spirit’s Secret Tale/ The Martyrs Return to Ramallah (2022). In addition, Daqqah published several translations, and tens of articles both in Arabic and Hebrew, most prominently: “Parallel Tine” (2005); “Milad: I Write to a Childe Yet to Be Born” (2011); “Liberate Yourself by Yourself” (2020), and “Control through Time” (2021). Daqqah also has several unpublished manuscripts, paintings, poetry, lyrics, and autobiographical and theatrical writings.

Under these harsh circumstances, Daqqah married the activist, journalist and translator Sana’ Salamah on 10 August, 1999 in Askalan Prison. The occupation state denied them conjugal visits and their right to be parents, in spite of all the appeals. Undeterred, on 3 March 2020 their daughter Milad was born in Nazareth from liberated semen for artificial insemination.”

Take action to save the life of Walid Daqqah and defeat the Zionist policy of assassination through medical neglect. We urge Palestinian communities around the world and supporters of Palestine to include the campaign to free Walid Daqqah in your events and activities for Palestine and to organize actions and events demanding his immediate liberation and that of all Palestinian prisoners. Use these signs below in your actions and campaigns, and send us your photos on FacebookInstagram and Twitter or via email at samidoun@samidoun.net.

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