Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Israeli authorities must immediately release Walid Dhaka

“The Israeli authorities should release Walid Dhaka, a terminally ill Palestinian prisoner, so that he can receive specialized medical care and spend the rest of his life with his family,” Amnesty International said today. Walid Dhaka, 62, suffers from a chronic lung disease and bone marrow cancer, and the Israeli prison clinic in Ayalon lacks the funds to treat him. After being diagnosed with cancer last year, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) denied Walid Dhaka access to a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant by refusing to transfer him to a civilian hospital.

“The case of Walid Dhaka illustrates the brutality of the Israeli justice system towards the Palestinian population, including the seriously ill and dying. Walid’s health has already deteriorated due to medical negligence on the part of the Israel Correctional Service: when he suffered a stroke earlier this year, the IRS refused to transfer him to a proper hospital for 11 days, leading to potentially dangerous complications. . Waleed Dhaka now faces a painful death behind bars,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The Walid Dhaka case illustrates the brutality of the Israeli justice system against the Palestinian population, including the seriously ill and the dying.

Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

“Denying prisoners access to adequate medical care violates international standards for the treatment of prisoners and may amount to torture. The Israeli authorities should release Walid Dhaka as soon as possible on humanitarian grounds and ensure that he receives urgently needed medical attention.”

Walid Dhaka served a 37-year prison sentence for being part of an armed group that kidnapped and killed an Israeli soldier in 1984, a term he served in March 2023. However, in 2018, he was sentenced to another two years for trying to smuggle phones to other Palestinian prisoners, which will keep him from being released until March 2025… a date when he may not return alive.

On June 26, 2023, a special parole board denied Walid Dhaka’s request for early release due to his illness. On August 7, 2023, the Lod District Court dismissed Walid’s appeal against the parole board’s decision.

Amnesty International 2022 report on apartheid against Palestinians shows how the Israeli military justice system systematically discriminates against Palestinians and denies them their right to a fair trial and due process.

Medical malpractice

In 2022, Walid Dhaka was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare form of bone marrow cancer. In addition, he suffers from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). As a result of IPS’s delay in transferring him to emergency care after suffering a stroke in February, Walid Dhaka developed many complications, including pneumonia and kidney failure, and had to have most of his right lung removed.

Amnesty International reviewed the medical evaluation of the Walid Dhaka case by Israeli hematologist Moshe Gatt, whose opinion was requested by Physicians for Human Rights Israel in January 2023. Although Walid’s condition has worsened, IPS continues to ignore Dr. Gatt’s recommendation that he be moved to a clean and sanitary environment.

Sana Salameh, wife of Waleed Dhaka, told Amnesty International that her husband was subjected to “systematic” neglect by health workers and lengthy prison sentences.

Amnesty International also reviewed a medical examination conducted by Dmitry Klotsky, medical director of IPS, which stated that Walid’s prognosis was “very bad” and that he needed help with all daily activities.

Palestinian human rights organizations such as Addamer have long documented Israel’s medical malpractice policy towards Palestinian prisoners. The World Health Organization and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 have also expressed concern about the treatment of sick Palestinian prisoners by the IPS.

The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state that “prisoners shall enjoy the same standards of medical care as those outside the community and shall have free access to necessary medical services without discrimination based on their legal status.”

Punitive solitary confinement

Walid Dhaka, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was arrested in March 1986. A year later, a military court found him guilty of commanding a group associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) that kidnapped and killed Israeli soldier Moshe. Tamam in 1984. Walid was found guilty not of committing the murder, but of ordering other members of the group to kill the soldier. Walid Dhaka claims that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment during interrogations. He was sentenced to life in prison, a sentence that was reduced in 2012 to 37 years in prison, a term he served in March 2023.

Amnesty International condemns the killing of Moshe Tamam as a violation of the absolute ban on violence against the life and person of military personnel who laid down their arms, including prisoners, established by the Geneva Conventions.

During his time in prison, Waleed Dhaka wrote many essays on the impact of imprisonment on Palestinian society, a novel for young adults, and many letters describing prison life, one of which was adapted as a play. After the publication of his novel, the IPS placed Walid in a penal solitary confinement cell.

Authorities repeatedly denied requests for a conjugal visit from Walid and his wife Sana. This right is denied to all Palestinians who fall under the category of “security prisoners”, a category that is also often granted to prisoners of Israeli origin. In 2019, Walid and Sana managed to conceive a daughter by smuggling sperm from prison, and their daughter Milad was born in 2020. Walid was placed in solitary confinement after the baby girl was born and was not allowed to see her for the first 18 years. months.

Walid Dhaka’s family plans to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, but as they told Amnesty International, “time is a luxury we don’t have.”

According to the medical estimates we reviewed, Walid Dhaka’s prognosis is one to two years of life; keeping him in jail until 2025 is cruel and unnecessary.

Cheba Morayef

“Walid Dhaka and his family should not be wandering through the legal labyrinth at such a painful time. According to the medical estimates we reviewed, Walid Dhaka’s prognosis is one to two years of life; keeping him in prison until 2025 is cruel and unnecessary,” concluded Heba Morayef.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to release Walid Dhaka, end the systematic denial of adequate medical care to Palestinians in prisons, and ensure that they comply with all international standards for the treatment of prisoners.”

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