Israel urged to release Palestine prisoner diagnosed with cancer

Palestinian rights group Addameer says Walid Daqqa’s health is deteriorating, accusing Israel of neglect.

Walid Daqqa
Daqqa is one of the most prominent and longtime Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody [Screen grab/ Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network]

A Palestinian prisoner’s rights group is calling on Israeli authorities to release Walid Daqqa from prison, saying that his health is deteriorating.

Daqqa is a Palestinian writer and activist, who has been imprisoned by Israel since 1986 for killing an Israeli soldier.

He was diagnosed last year with Myelofibrosis – a rare form of bone marrow cancer that disrupts the body’s normal production of blood cells.

Addameer, a rights group that supports Palestinian prisoners, said the 61-year-old is in “dire need of urgent medical attention”.

The group accused Israeli authorities of denying Daqqa the treatment he was prescribed and called for his “immediate release”.

If left untreated, Myelofibrosis causes extensive scarring in the bone marrow, leading to severe anaemia that can cause weakness and fatigue.

In February, Daqqa suffered a stroke that was caused by a blood clot, according to the rights group.

Daqqa is one of the most prominent and longtime Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. While in prison, he has written several books, including a children’s one.

In 1999, Daqqa got married while behind bars. Along with his wife, Sana Salameh, he welcomed a daughter – Milad – in 2020, conceived after his sperm was smuggled out of prison.

“The dream of having Milad one day has been with us for 20 years. We even named her before her birth,” Salameh, said in 2021.

In December, a Palestinian prisoner, Nasser Abu Hmaid, died in Israeli custody despite longstanding calls to release him and claims of Israeli medical negligence following his late diagnosis with cancer more than a year ago.

Palestinian officials and rights groups have long documented and condemned a “deliberate Israeli policy of medical negligence”.

Israeli prison authorities regularly delay checkups and urgent surgeries for Palestinian prisoners for years, according to prisoner groups.

Specialised doctors are not regularly available, except for dentists, and “over-the-counter painkillers are administered as a remedy for almost all health problems”, rights groups said in a joint report (PDF) to the United Nations.

In 2020, four Palestinian prisoners died in Israeli custody.

In November 2021, Palestinian prisoner Sami Umour, 39, died after a months-long delay of an urgently needed operation for serious heart problems he was suffering from.

Source: Al Jazeera