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Rights group urges ‘immediate release’ of Palestinian prisoner battling cancer

Cancer-stricken Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqa

A leading Palestinian human rights organization has called on the Israeli regime to immediately release cancer-stricken prisoner Walid Daqqa amid his deteriorating health condition as a result of decades-long detention in the occupying regime's jails.

Addameer, a Ramallah-based rights advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners, said on Tuesday that 61-year-old Daqqa was in “dire need of urgent medical attention,” and called for his “immediate release” after 38 years in Israeli detention.

The Palestinian rights group accused Israeli authorities of denying the longtime prisoner the prescribed treatment for his cancer, calling for “prompt access to advanced and timely treatments prescribed by medical specialists to Walid Daqqa by the Israeli Prisoner Service.”

Addameer also stressed, “The instrumentalization of medical negligence to denigrate, demoralize, and punish Palestinian prisoners is emblematic of Israel’s illegal and inhumane prison system.”

Daqqa, a Palestinian writer and activist, has been imprisoned by Israel since 1986 for the alleged killing of 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.

In February, Daqqa suffered a stroke that was caused by a blood clot, according to the rights group. He was recently transferred to the Israeli Barzlai Hospital due to a relapse in his health.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Commission for Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners' Affairs warned on Tuesday of the serious health condition of Daqqa, saying he is in an unstable condition resulting from acute pneumonia and that his transfer to the Israeli hospital was due to his suffering from dizziness and low hemoglobin levels.

The commission called for immediate action to save the Palestinian prisoner’s life and for immediate intervention to release him to better diagnose his condition. The commission also demanded the transfer of Daqqa to a qualified hospital to receive the necessary and appropriate treatment.

In a statement on Saturday, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) also held the Israeli occupation fully responsible for any harm that may affect the cancer-stricken prisoner.

The prisoner's family appealed to everyone to "take immediate action to save his life and not let him struggle with death inside the occupation cells.”

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.

Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Fourth Geneva Convention. They say administrative detention violates their right to due process since the evidence is withheld from prisoners while they are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express outrage at their detention. Israeli jail authorities keep Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions without proper hygienic standards. Palestinian inmates have also been subject to systematic torture, harassment, and repression.

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