Waleed Daqqa Dies After 38 Years in Israeli Prison

12:00 Apr 7 2024 Baqa al-Gharbiyye (בָּקַה אל-גרְבִּיָּה‎ باقة الغربية) and Assaf Harofeh Hospital

Waleed Daqqa. Published by IMEMC News

Daka's mother, Farida, near his photo in their home's garden, in 2014. Credit: Alex Levac Published by Haaretz

Family members of murdered IDF soldier Moshe Tamam, in a court discussion over a play that told Walid Daka's story, in 2015. Credit: Rami Shllush Published by IMEMC News

by IMEMC News
April 8, 2024

After 38 years in Israeli occupation prisons, Palestinian prisoner Waleed Daqqa has died due to years of medical neglect while in Israeli jails.

Abu Daqqa was scheduled to be released in February last year after completing his jail term, but Israeli authorities extended his sentence for two more years, forbidding him from seeing his only daughter, Milad, whom he and his wife conceived after managing to smuggle his sperm out of prison. He was denied proper treatment for his rare cancer condition, which Israeli occupation authorities neglected.

Amnesty International and many Palestinian and international human rights organizations had demanded the release of Waleed, who suffered from chronic lung disease and bone marrow cancer, citing the medical neglect of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons.

He was taken prisoner on March 25, 1986. On December 18, 2022, he was diagnosed with Myelofibrosis, a bone marrow cancer that can lead to serious complications. In the year 2015, he was diagnosed with Leukemia, a serious blood cancer.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society announced in a statement that Abu Daqqa died at the Assaf Harofeh Hospital as a result of Israel’s policy of deliberate medical negligence and slow killing of medically vulnerable Palestinians.

Daqqa’s health reportedly deteriorated since March of last year, as a result of a severe pneumonia and acute kidney failure.

The 62-year-old Palestinian prisoner was arrested in 1986 and sentenced to 37 years in prison, which he completed in March 2023.

Israeli authorities, however, extended his sentence by two years in 2017 over charges of smuggling a mobile phone into prison.

In 2014 a Haifa theater ran a play called "A Parallel Time," about Daka. The response to the show brought an end to the theater's funding, and led to a Supreme Court case that ended with a rejection of the theater's appeal for support funds from the Culture Ministry. The culture minister at the time, Miri Regev, said in 2017: "we will not fund a theater that supports terror." The theater shut down in 2019.

via Twitter

باسل ابو حسان
قوات الاحتلال تفكك خيمة عزاء الشهيد وليد دقة وتعتدي على أهالي الشهيد وتعتقل عدد من المعزّين في بلدة باقا الغربية بالداخل المحتل .
9:39 AM · Apr 8, 2024

Translated from Arabic by Google

The occupation forces dismantled the funeral tent for the martyr Walid Daqqa, assaulted the martyr’s family, and arrested a number of mourners in the western town of Baqa in the occupied interior.

Palestine Festival of Literature
3:17 PM · Apr 8, 2024

Walid Daqqa, Palestinian poet and political prisoner, died yesterday in an Israeli prison.

Last year at one of our events in Ramallah the director of the Sakakini Center, Hossam Ghosheh, read one of Daqqa's poems. Mohammed El-Kurd then read Dalia Taha’s English translation.

“Uncle, Give Me a Cigarette”
Source: Walid Daqqah, Dalia Taha "‘A Place Without a Door’ and ‘Uncle Give me a Cigarette’—Two Essays by Palestinian Political Prisoner, Walid Daqqah," Middle East Report Online, July 11, 2023.

It is morning and I hear the jangling of two sets of handcuffs as the prison guard approaches us. He throws them to the ground, clanging against the concrete floor, and a sense of calm settles over the room. There’s one bundle to tie the hands, and another, with longer chains, to tie the legs. Eight pairs of handcuffs of each kind, for seven prisoners.

I stand with the others in the middle of a small yard, ringed by holding cells, and try to lean against the wall. I am tired of being moved between prisons since we started the open hunger strike. I gather my energy and try to take in as much air as possible in preparation for a journey that will last hours inside an iron box that in this heat quickly turns into an unbearable furnace.

Once he is finished handcuffing us, the guard heads off for the prisoner transport truck. And then I hear a voice emanating out of the cell behind me…

“Uncle, give me a cigarette.” I peer into the cell’s darkness but cannot see anyone, and for a moment I think I am delirious. Then the voice issues out of the cell again, this time louder and more desperate. “Uncle, my uncle, give me a cigarette!” I stare into the cell again and call to the voice.

“Where are you?!”

“I’m here, down here!”.

Hunching down, I peer through the slot in the bottom of the door through which prisoners receive their food and have their hands tied before being let out of the cell, and I see a child, not older than twelve years old. A child asking for a cigarette.

I didn’t know how to respond to him. Should I give him a cigarette, I wondered, or should I educate him about the dangers of smoking in the way that adults do with children outside prison? Adults, adults…and then I am struck by the fact I am including myself in this category. By the fact that he called me “uncle.” Am I so old already?

I was suddenly terrified by being addressed in this manner. It was the first time during my 26 years of imprisonment that I have met someone speaking to me across such a distance of age. In prisons we are used to not addressing each other in this way, with social honorifics marking our age. Regardless of what our age differences may be, we all address each other as “my brother” or “comrade” and, more recently, “fighter.”

The craving is not for the rush of nicotine but for what the cigarette connotes. Frightened, a mere child in the harsh world of the prison, he wanted to become a man quickly.I considered the child, empathizing with his craving for the cigarette. The craving is not for the rush of nicotine but for what the cigarette connotes. Frightened, a mere child in the harsh world of the prison, he wanted to become a man quickly. Meanwhile, it is now my desire to turn back time so that I can again become a child, at least a young man, the way I was when I entered prison more than a quarter of a century ago.
Both of us were fearful. I was fearful for the time that had passed and he was fearful of what had not yet passed. I was afraid of the past and he was afraid of the future. I was afraid of having lived a life that had burnt out in prison, and he was afraid of what the cigarette that was now lodged between his lips could not burn away. The cigarette became something else after he had exhaled and so did he, standing tall now on his toes, appearing now older than his age. The ember glow became a lantern in his hand, chasing away the darkness of the cell, dispelling his fear and loneliness.

He was not smoking but trying to dispel the image of a child that so incontrovertibly clung to him. In the world of the prison, in the face of the cruelty of its guards, childhood is a burden. Knowing that he was to face years of imprisonment, he was seeking to rid himself of his vulnerability and innocence, for which he clearly had no further use–it having made no difference to the judge that had sentenced him to four years.

The guard came back for us, picked the eighth pair of handcuffs up from the concrete floor, and barked at the child to push his hands through the slot in the door. So the child pushed them through still holding the cigarette between his fingers. The guard shouted at him to drop the cigarette and then muttered to himself in Hebrew, bemoaning the sight of a child smoking. Nevertheless he proceeded with the handcuffing, remaining unmoved by the sight of those small hands in handcuffs. Because the child’s wrists were too small, however, he struggled several times to secure the handcuffs, and finally decided to use them to chain the boy’s legs.

When he was moved out of the cell, in preparation for the transportation, I looked at him and imagined that he was my own son, such as fate had not yet wanted to bring into the world. I wanted with every strain of my being to hug him and as these paternal feelings surged through me, I felt an overwhelming desire to cry. But I hid my feelings. I did not want to shatter the image of the man that he wanted now to become. I walked over to him, so as to shake his hand as a comrade, and a rival, asking

“How are you, fighter?”

Waleed Daqqa, from Baqa al-Gharbiyye, imprisoned by Israel since 1986, reported dead 4/7/2024
Waleed Daqqa, from Baqa al-Gharbiyye , detained by Israel since 1986, has died, reported 4/7/2024
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