PFLP condemns continued Israeli imprisonment of Palestinian leader Walid Daqqah

Walid Daqqah, who faces multiple health complications, has been in prison since 1986. He was scheduled to be released in February this year but Israeli authorities extended his jail term by two years after charging him with attempting to smuggle mobile phones into prison

June 01, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Walid Daqqah

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has condemned the Israeli occupation courts for rejecting the appeal to release imprisoned Palestinian leader, novelist, and intellectual Walid Daqqah. The statement came after the Israeli prison service parole committee rejected his release at a session held in Ramleh prison on Wednesday, May 31. While rejecting the request, the parole committee said that it is not within its powers to approve Daqqah’s release and referred the matter to another committee which handles such requests for prisoners serving life sentences. 

Daqqah is serving a 37-year prison sentence after being arrested by the Israeli security forces on March 25, 1986. He is accused of being involved in the murder of an Israeli soldier. His sentence was supposed to end in February 2023, but the Israeli authorities extended it by two years after charging him with attempting to smuggle mobile phones into prison. He was being held in the Baqa al-Gharbiya prison.

The PFLP in its statement said that not releasing Daqqah is “tantamount to a death sentence.” The group said that it holds “the Zionist occupation fully responsible for the repercussions of this decision, especially since the health conditions of the imprisoned leader Walid Daqqah are in a state of continuous deterioration, due to the continued policy of medical neglect, and the lack of appropriate diagnoses and treatments.” The statement urged people across Palestine and the world to extend their support and solidarity to the campaign launched by the Martyrs, Prisoners, and Wounded Office of the Popular Front for Daqqah’s release.

Daqqah’s family also condemned the “execution decision of the prisoner Walid Daqqah by procrastinating in deciding on his release, despite the very high degree of danger in his health condition.” They called on all legal institutions, popular movements, and the Palestinian people to intensify the campaign for his release. 

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said that the court’s decision will complicate efforts to provide Daqqah medical treatment outside prison which he urgently needs. Daqqah was diagnosed with advanced bone marrow cancer in December last year, in addition to previously being diagnosed with leukemia in 2015. He also had to undergo surgery to remove a part of his right lung, which ended up causing further health complications. 

Following sustained pressure by the campaign for his release, the prison authorities last week transferred him to a hospital in Tel Aviv. This was just weeks after another Palestinian prisoner, Khader Adnan, died in Israeli custody after being on hunger strike for 87 days to protest against his illegal administrative detention. He had developed a number of serious health issues, ultimately resulting in his death.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have been organizing protests and other collective actions for Daqqah’s release. In Gaza, a rally was organized near the Erez checkpoint in Beit Hanoun. Similar rallies and marches were also held in other parts of Gaza in the preceding weeks. 

Palestinian prisoners have also joined the campaign for his release and announced a one-day hunger strike on Thursday in support of the ailing prisoner. The group representing the prisoners, the Supreme Emergency Committee of the Palestinian National Captive Movement, said that the hunger strike is also to protest the unjust solitary confinement of Ahmad Sadddat and two other prisoners, Ahed Abu Gholami and Walid Hanatsheh. It is also to protest the illegal and inhumane Israeli policy of administrative detention which has been used against hundreds of Palestinians to keep them in prison without charge or trial. 

Palestinian prisoners had last week staged a similar one-day strike across prisons, detention centers, and interrogation centers in Israel in solidarity with Daqqah. Around 4,900 Palestinian prisoners are currently languishing in Israeli prisons, including dozens of children and women. Among them are close to 500 administrative detainees, who are being held for prolonged periods without charge or trial.