Walid Daqqa’s defiance and suffering while in Israeli custody

Incarcerated Palestinian novelist and activist Walid Daqqa’s family and supporters are worried about his deteriorating health in prison. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer, but Israeli authorities have refused to release him.

Despite his suffering, the 61-year-old has defied Israeli prison authorities.“In general, my son or daughter, my newborn, whom I will name Milad, may compose a tune that has not yet been composed. He or she might become an astronomer or discover a cure for cancer. Perhaps he or she will achieve what our generations have failed to do, that is, find a solution to the conflict so that there is real peace and security rather than your imaginary security,” Daqqa said during his trial after he smuggled his sperm out of prison that was used to conceive his wife Sana Salameh.

Salameh gave birth to their daughter Milad in 2020. By fathering Milad, Daqqa was able to defy Israeli jail authorities, who prevented him from meeting his wife even though Israeli laws allow the conception of children in jail.

Daqqa married Salameh in 1999 while serving a 37-year sentence for his involvement in the killing of an Israeli soldier. He was set to be released in February after completing his jail term, but his sentence was extended for two years for smuggling mobile phones.

Israel has made an example of Daqqa for his defiance by also preventing him from receiving appropriate treatment and early release due to his deteriorating health.

Cancer diagnosis
He was diagnosed with advanced bone marrow cancer in December 2022 and declared in urgent need of a transplant, but has not yet had a transplant.On May 22, Daqqa was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Assaf Harofeh hospital south of Tel Aviv due to further health complications. But three days later, Israeli authorities transferred him back to the Ramleh prison’s clinic in Israel, which is notorious for its difficult conditions, despite calls by rights groups to keep him hospitalised for constant monitoring and treatment if he is not released.

His imprisonment also violates the 1993 Oslo Accords, which had a clause for the release of all Palestinian prisoners detained prior to the signing of the agreement.
He suffered from acute pneumonia and renal failure, after which he underwent surgery on April 12 when a large portion of his right lung was removed. He has since suffered from complications from the surgery, as well as severe respiratory suffocation and infection.

“Israel insists on returning him to the Ramleh prison clinic, and every time his lung gets infected, we fear for his life, but we are prohibited from accompanying him during his illness,” Salameh said.

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