Walid Daqqah’s fate is in our hands – Mondoweiss

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On Sunday 18 June, a statement regarding the release of Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqah was issued by his family and the broader campaign for his release. The statement read:

“After for hours of deliberation… the “israeli” court in “ma’asiyahu” prison in Ramla adjourned without ruling on the right of prisoner Walid Daqqah to appear before the “early release committee”, and the judge will issue his decision within a week from the date”

Walid Daqqah completed his unjust sentence of 37 years in March 2023 but is still being arbitrarily detained, after two years were added to his sentence in 2018. Last year, he was diagnosed with Myelofibrosis, a rare form of bone marrow cancer, and his health has deteriorated since. Despite his declining health, the Zionist entity has refused to release him or provide him with urgent, life-saving medical care – Walid Daqqah is subsequently dying of medical negligence at the hands of the Zionist regime. Only weeks ago, in another brazen attempt to silence Palestinian resistance, Khader Adnan was martyred in Zionist captivity after nearly three months of hunger strike, when Zionist authorities ignored all warnings of his deteriorating health and the Zionist state seemed poised to repeat this killing with Walid Daqqa.

The Zionist entity’s refusal to release Walid Daqqah, or provide him with life-saving medical care, is a response to the threat that he poses to the Zionist entity. Walid Daqqah is one of the handful of political prisoners still detained prior to the Oslo Accords, and as such he represents a threat to the logic of the so-called peace process, predicated on capitulation, that stands squarely as an obstacle to Palestinian liberation. In the words of his wife, Sanaa Salama, who has been leading his campaign efforts, Walid is no “ordinary prisoner…but rather a thinker, author, and one of the most important thinkers of the [Palestinian Prisoners] Movement and the Palestinian people in general.” It is out of this fear of Walid’s status as a prolific revolutionary thinker and organizer,  that Israeli authorities have made clear their intent to end his life in colonial prisons. Despite this, Walid’s revolutionary spirit has not wavered. From behind prison bars, he continues to serve as a  role model for many Palestinian prisoners and is considered a leader of the Palestinian Prisoners Movement. 

In 2020, Walid Daqqah’s wife gave birth to their daughter, Milad, who was conceived through Walid’s liberated sperm that was smuggled out of the Zionist prison: this is part of a wider trend of liberating sperm from Zionist prisons; most recently, quadruplets were born from a prisoner’s smuggled sperm. Walid Daqqah’s persistence in becoming a father reminds us that every facet of life, even the right to conceive, becomes a battle for dignity within Zionist prisons – he is an embodiment of the Palestinian spirit and his resilience reminds us of the failures of Zionist prisons in liquidating  Palestinian revolutionary consciousness.

Palestinian Youth Movement Poster – Prisoners are the compass of our struggle
Palestinian Youth Movement Poster – Prisoners are the compass of our struggle

Daqqah’s case reasserts the threat the Palestinian Prisoner’s Movement poses to the Zionist settler colonial project: prisoners have regularly been at the forefront of resistance to Zionism and imperialism and are the compass of our struggle. The Palestinian prisoners’ centrality to the struggle has a long history that goes back to before the colonization of Palestine in 1948. In 1930, British police executed three resistance fighters in Akka prison, and the story continues to be immortalized in popular song. During the British mandate, and especially during the 1936 to 1939 Great Arab Revolution, imprisonment was a regular experience: the British regularly incarcerated Palestinians, especially those who resisted. In the process, the British built an entire prison infrastructure across the country that was adopted and expanded by the Zionist entity after 1948.  

Despite the long history of imprisonment as a colonial tactic, the Palestinian Prisoners Movement remains both a site of unity and of knowledge production. As an example of unity: when a cadre is interred, they immediately enter a new socio-political organism. Seniority in the prisoner’s movement is based on experience and revolutionary potential, and a leader in any faction is respected by members. In times of fragmentation, a byproduct of the Oslo legacy, the prisoners’ movement has come out demanding that the unity in prison be reflected as a reality on the street. Walid Daqqah exemplifies the prisoners’ struggle as a site of knowledge production: from inside prison, he succeeded in becoming a novelist and a political analyst with huge renown within Palestinian society. His famous book, Searing of Consciousness, dissects the Zionist entity’s strategies for the elimination of the Palestinian people by drawing on his experiences in prisons, offering them as analysis. These Zionist attempts at searing the Palestinian revolutionary psyche have largely failed as we see today the rising youth engaging in popular resistance to confront Zionism and to struggle for Palestinian liberation. 

It is from this position of failure and weakness that the Zionist regime seeks to desperately reassert its authority, and it is from a place of weakness that the regime has yet to learn from its mistakes: all of Israel’s assassinations of Palestinian youth in the West Bank over the past year, in its attempt to “Break the Wave” of resistance, have only emboldened Palestinians to continue resisting. Meanwhile, its military deterrence continues to deteriorate more with each escalation against Gaza, and each failed raid in the West Bank at a moment of perhaps unprecedented internal polarisation within Zionist society on global display. According to Amany Sarahneh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners Club, “there are major shifts in all issues related to prisoners because Israel uses them as a tool to win the Israeli public opinion.” Perhaps the clearest example of this is in the Zionist regime’s use of administrative detention. Administrative detention refers to the act of detaining prisoners indefinitely and without trial. The frequency of the use of administrative detention has fluctuated throughout the Zionist entity’s colonial project, and has been steadily rising since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000, being deployed as a means of collective punishment for Palestinians who resist. 

We have seen this strategy escalate more recently, specifically when Israel’s national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, an avowed fascist, imposed further dehumanizing restrictions on political prisoners out of fear of the Palestinian political prisoner’s ability to galvanize the masses even behind colonial bars. Ben-Gvir’s clampdown was part of a larger strategy to curb the celebration of Palestinian prisoners, to ensure that Palestinians “leave prison in shame.” Despite these feeble attempts at humiliating Palestinian prisoners, their release continues to be celebrated across historic Palestine and within the diaspora. Indeed, the Palestinian Prisoners Movement’s centrality in our national liberation struggle can only be strengthened, and the debt we owe our political prisoners intensified as we take up our duty to honor their struggle. 

The statement issued by Walid Daqqah’s family and the campaign for his release explicitly states that “any decision or ruling that does not lead to his immediate release” is a “statement of his execution.” We are currently at a crossroads: it is a matter of days, weeks, or months in which Walid’s Daqqa’s fate will be determined; will he be celebrated as a freed prisoner or as a martyr? International actors have a long history of advocating for the rights of prisoners and can play an important role in determining the fate of Walid Daqqah.

The Palestinian Youth Movement subsequently calls on international actors to demand the immediate release of Walid Daqqah and expose the illegal nature of his imprisonment. We especially call on all parties contracted to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal obligations to the Palestinian people. We call on organizations and people of consciousness to amplify our demands by signing this petition demanding the immediate release of Walid Daqqah.

As we march on the path of return, we know that the liberation of Palestine depends on the freedom of Walid Daqqah, and of all Palestinian prisoners.

Sign the Palestinian Youth Movement Free Walid Daqqah! petition here.

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