Walid Daqqa: Palestinian dies in Israeli jail after long fight with cancer

Rights groups had condemned Israeli authorities for extending his sentence despite the terminal illness

Walid Daqqa died in an Israeli prison on Sunday. His supporters blamed the Israeli authorities for neglecting his health while he was behind bars. Photo: Wafa
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Walid Daqqa, 61, a Palestinian prisoner incarcerated since 1986, has died in Israel’s Shamir Medical Centre after a long battle with cancer.

Israeli authorities had extended his 36-year jail sentence by another two years, sparking an outcry among rights groups.

Daqqa, who was convicted of killing an Israeli soldier in 1984, devoted decades behind bars to raising awareness of the struggle for a Palestinian state, writing essays and a book intended for the children of prisoners, The Oil's Secret Tale.

He was due to finish his sentence in 2023, but Israeli authorities extended his sentence to 2025, despite his diagnosis with bone cancer, a fight with leukaemia and a stroke.

Daqqa's sentence was extended on the grounds that he had smuggled mobile phones into the prison in 2018.

According to his family members, similar offences would usually entail extension of prison sentences by days.

Hussein Al Sheikh, secretary general of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, hailed Daqqa’s commitment to the Palestinian cause.

Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, called him a “freedom fighter”. Daqqa died after “years of deliberate medical negligence by the Israeli prison administration”, it said.

Daqqa, an Israeli citizen, was arrested and jailed for belonging to an armed cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular socialist group that was blamed for the kidnapping and killing of an Israeli soldier in 1984.

Israel repeatedly dismissed his medical parole requests, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

Just before Daqqa's death, Amnesty International on Saturday repeated its call for his release.

The group said Daqqa had been “tortured, humiliated, denied family visits and has faced further medical neglect”, since October 7 last year, when Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking another 240 as hostages.

Israel's response has led to the killing of 33,175 Palestinians as of Sunday, the majority said to be women and children, destroyed most of Gaza's basic infrastructure, and left millions of people facing imminent famine, according to the UN.

Updated: April 08, 2024, 12:07 PM