Adalah petitions the Israeli Supreme Court to order the authorities to release the body of deceased Walid Daqqa to his family for burial

The petition argues that the authorities are persisting in their abusive treatment of the family by unlawfully withholding the deceased's body in a cruel and inhumane manner.
On 21 April 2024, the State Attorney’s Office issued a preliminary response to the petition, clarifying that the authorities intend to retain the body of Walid Daqqa until at least 5 May 2024 to allow them to reconsider and potentially change their overarching policy regarding the withholding of the bodies of deceased prisoners who are citizens of Israel and who died in Israeli custody. The respondents indicated that this policy review is required due to a change in the current reality, citing “a radical change in circumstances for the worse since 7 October 2023.” They further noted that completing this review required the involvement of security officials, including those dealing with hostages, who they stated were under considerable pressure during the war;iIn other words, the state is considering withholding the bodies of Israeli citizens for potential use as leverage in future negotiations with Hamas. The Supreme Court ordered the state to submit an update to it by 5 May 2024. 

CLICK HERE to read the response [Hebrew]


Today, 16 April 2024, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, filed a petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of the family of deceased Palestinian Walid Daqqa, demanding the immediate release of his body for burial. On 7 April 2024, while in custody, Daqqa was transferred to Asaf Harofeh Hospital in the center of Israel, and that evening the hospital confirmed his death, which followed a prolonged battle with cancer.


    CLICK HERE read the petition [Hebrew]

    HCJ 3289/24 Sanaa Daqqa et al. v. Interim Prison Service Chief et al.


Walid Daqqa, 62 years old at the time of his death, was a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Palestinian town of Baqa Al-Gharbiyyah in central Israel. Daqqa was convicted in 1987 for involvement with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, specifically for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984, allegations he repeatedly denied. Daqqa was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court, and in 2018, he received an additional two years in custody for smuggling a mobile phone into prison, which was set to conclude in March 2025. During his incarceration, Daqqa completed a Master’s degree in democracy studies and wrote extensively about the lives of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, the importance of non-violent struggle as a means of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.


The petition, filed by Adalah’s Legal Director, Dr. Suhad Bishara, and Adalah’s General Director, Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen, argues that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) and the police are withholding Daqqa’s body unlawfully, violating both his and his family’s right to dignity, and in breach of the rule of law. This right is anchored in international humanitarian law, in international human rights law, and in Israeli Supreme Court rulings. The right of every individual to a respectable burial without any undue delays is an integral part of the right to dignity, which is granted not just to the living but also to the deceased. 


The petitioners further argued that, in addition to barring Daqqa’s family from visiting him in prison for over six months, despite his terminal condition, the Israeli authorities failed to notify the family that he had been transferred to hospital as his condition deteriorated and did not allow them to visit him in hospital before his death. Additionally, the petition highlights the IPS’s failure to inform the family of Daqqa’s death, or to provide them with a death certificate; instead, the police assaulted the family and visitors paying condolences at their home and forcibly dismantled their mourning tent. Most egregiously, as the petitioners argue, the authorities continue to abuse the family by withholding Daqqa’s body unlawfully and without legal authority under Israeli law, in a cruel and inhumane manner.


Related press release: Dismantling the Mourning Tent at the Family Home of Recently-Deceased Palestinian Prisoner Walid Daqqa is Unlawful


Photo by: Arab48