Hunger strike in Palestine

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SHAFAQNA – Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq is entering his 83rd day of hunger striking against his administrative detention by Israeli authorities. al-Qiq is one of over 600 Palestinians currently being detained without any charges filed, a strongly condemned strategy under international law.

Hebrew news media is reporting that al-Qiq has denied attempts at compromise by Israel, in which the state is offering to move him to East Jerusalem’s al-Makassed Hospital, instead of a fully Palestinian hospital in Ramallah as al-Qiq has repeatedly requested.

Al-Qiq was arrested in November according to accusations of “terrorist activity” on behalf of the Palestinian political party Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip. The accusations come directly from the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, and have as yet not been independently verified.

So, a journalist was arrested by occupying forces for being in a war zone that the occupying army has created almost singlehandedly through blockade, months-long assaults and retaliations to rocket fire with high-tech weaponry. Seems suspect.

The journalist has continuously requested an end to his administrative detention—as well as what he says was torture upon first being arrested.

He is currently being held in the Haemek hospital in the northern Israeli town of Afula in the Lower Galilee.

“There is no difference between Afula and al-Makassed hospital for al-Qiq,” Ahmad Abu Muhammad of the Palestinian Prisoners Society told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. “If he decides to go to Jerusalem, they will take him, put two or three soldiers by his bed … it will be exactly the same,” Muhammad added.

Lawyers for al-Qiq have petitioned the High Court on Monday for his transfer to a Palestinian-controlled hospital in Ramallah, but the High Court relented only in that it has offered to move him to East Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem was illegally annexed after the Arab-Israeli war in 1967 and has remained under Israeli control since. Ramallah is under full Palestinian civil and military control according to the terms of the Oslo Interim Agreement of 1994.

Al-Qiq has been reported to be resoundingly close to death, as previous to the beginning of the hunger strike, he was subjected to “torture and ill treatment” during interrogation, according to Adameer, a Palestinian rights organization.

International human rights agencies including the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross have expressed serious concern about the fate of a journalist who has not been accused of any crime.

Last Thursday, Israeli judges officially “froze” al-Qiq’s detention, but have still ordered him to remain in custody in the HaEmek hospital. He immediately rejected the move, as it is clearly a political ploy devoid of any Israeli intentions of freeing him.

Visiting al-Qiq on Friday in the hospital, Hiba Masalha, attorney for the PA’s Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs told Palestinian Arabic language daily Quds, “There has been a severe deterioration in the health condition of the detained journalist Muhammad al-Qiq.”

“He has completely lost the ability to speak. He continues to suffer from fatigue, dizziness and breathing difficulties due to the continuation of his hunger strike and his refusal of treatment for the 74th consecutive day,” added Masalha.

Sources – American Herald Tribune

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