State informs Supreme Court it will continue withholding Walid Daqqa's body and bodies of other Palestinian citizens as bargaining chips for negotiations with Hamas

The State submitted an update to the court ahead of tomorrow's Supreme Court hearing (13 June) on the petition of Walid Daqqa's family, whose body has been held without authority for over two months.

Tomorrow, Thursday, 13 June 2024, at 9:00 AM, the Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by Adalah on behalf of the family of the late Walid Daqqa, whose body has been withheld by Israeli authorities since his death on 7 April 2024. The State informed the Supreme Court yesterday, 11 June,  that on Sunday, 9 June, the Security Cabinet of Israel ratified Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's decision to withhold Daqqa's body for future negotiations with Hamas. The State further said that although the decision was based on an "extremely exceptional case" justifying a deviation from the policy of not holding the bodies of Israeli citizens, the Cabinet decided to continue holding all bodies of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who allegedly carried out attacks, in custody until a decision is made by the government on the overarching policy on the matter. Since 7 October, the police released the bodies of two Palestinian citizens of Israel, previously held without authority, only after Adalah petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of the families of the deceased.


    CLICK HERE to read the State’s update [Hebrew]

    CLICK HERE to read more about the petition 

        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 and was set to be released 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. On 7 April 2024, while in custody, Daqqa was transferred to Asaf Harofeh Hospital in central Israel, and that evening the hospital confirmed his death, which followed a prolonged battle with cancer.


In its update to the Supreme Court, the State argued that the petition should be dismissed because there are no grounds for the Supreme Court to intervene in the Defense Minister's decision. According to the State's position, the decision regarding Daqqa's body is proportional and reasonable, "reflecting a proper balance between all considerations and circumstances, including the paramount objective of dealing with hostages and missing persons, as well as other relevant political-security considerations, and, on the other hand, the harm to the dignity of the deceased and his family in this case."


According to the State, Gallant instructed the military commander to withhold Daqqa’s body as per his authority under Regulation No. 133(3) of the 1945 Defense (Emergency) Regulations – introduced by the authorities of the British Mandate for Palestine and incorporated into Israeli law – alongside two Israeli Cabinet decisions. The Israeli Supreme Court approved a comprehensive written policy adopted by the Security Cabinet in 2020, according to which the military shall withhold the bodies of deceased Palestinians who are alleged to have committed attacks regardless of the circumstances. This policy has been applied sweepingly against Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, with Israeli authorities holding hundreds of Palestinians’ bodies at any given time. The State now, for the first time, implements this policy against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Adalah argues that the Cabinet lacks the authority to make such a decision, which violates both Daqqa's and his family’s right to dignity and breaches the rule of law. This right is anchored in international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and Israeli Supreme Court rulings.


According to media reports, during the 9 June Israeli cabinet meeting referred to in the State's response, a fierce debate took place, where the Prime Minister and Minister Itamar Ben Gvir clashed with the head of the Shin Bet and Defense Minister Gallant regarding the withholding of bodies of deceased Palestinian citizens of Israel. According to these reports, dehumanizing language and rhetoric was used  with far-right Minister Bezalel Smotrich stating, “We should place the bodies on a cart and drag them through the city center as was done in biblical times, so that people can see and be deterred” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating, “There is no escaping it - we should not release the bodies” of Palestinians at this time.


Adalah commented:


“Israel is expanding its long-standing policy of withholding Palestinian bodies in order to use them as bargaining chips to the withholding of Walid Daqqa's body and other Palestinian citizens until further notice. Now, military orders are being used to detain the bodies of Palestinian citizens for political purposes, illustrating that citizenship does not shield Palestinians from Israeli oppression. Israel is denying Palestinians the right to bury their deceased promptly and with dignity, a blatant violation of their and their families’ human rights. This policy not only contravenes international law, but exposes yet again Israel's system of subjugation and repression of Palestinians, both in life and death.”


Date: Thursday, 13 June 2024

Time: 9:00 am

Location: Supreme Court, Jerusalem, Courtroom C, 

Panel of Justices: Justices Yitzhak Amit, Khaled Kabub and Alex Stein. 


Adalah’s Comms Team will be on-site to field media queries. 

Ari Remez, Tel: +972-54-307-7311


Photo by: Arab48