Palestinian to end 94-day hunger strike over Israeli detention

Representatives of Mohammed Al Qiq say he will be freed in May after regaining health.

Mohammed Al Qiq in hospital in the northern Israeli town of Afula on February 5, 2016. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP
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DURA, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES // A Palestinian journalist held by Israel without trial, Mohammed Al Qiq, agreed on Friday to end his 94-day hunger strike as part of a deal for his release in May.

“An agreement has been reached under which his administrative detention will end on May 21 and will not be renewed,” said the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, an NGO which has been defending him. “He is ending his hunger strike today.”

The Israeli army was less categorical on his release.

“He will continue to remain in custody until May 21, 2016. On that date, the situation will be examined to determine whether there is new information or security circumstances which require extending detention,” it said.

But for Al Qiq’s family and supporters it was a victory.

“The determination of the detained journalist Mohammed Al Qiq has won,” his wife Fayha Shalash said at the family home in the southern West Bank village of Dura.

“We will, in the coming hours, be next to him to actually end this hunger strike,” she said, adding that his first sustenance would be minerals administered intravenously.

“On May 21, he will be freed and, meanwhile, he will be treated because his health condition is very dangerous.”

She said her husband would remain at the Afula hospital in northern Israel until then.

The 33-year-old reporter for the Saudi television channel Al Majd started his fast on November 25 in protest at the “torture and ill treatment that he was subjected to during interrogation”, according to Addameer, a Palestinian rights organisation.

Doctors who have visited Al Qiq in hospital said he had occasionally taken minerals and vitamins but mainly drank tap water.

He had made ending his fast a condition of being transferred to a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah, under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction.

Israel’s supreme court turned down the demand and made a counter-proposal to move him to Palestinian-run Makassed hospital in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Al Qiq rejected the proposal, saying Makassed was in an area under Israeli sovereignty and police could enter at will to rearrest him.

The court officially suspended the internment order against Al Qiq on February 4 but ordered him confined to hospital.

The United Nations has expressed concern about his fate and the International Committee of the Red Cross described his condition as critical.

Al Qiq was arrested on November 21 in Ramallah.

Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service said he was detained for “terror activity” on behalf of Hamas, which controls Gaza, a charge he denied.

He was jailed for a month in 2003 and then for 13 months in 2004 for “Hamas-related activities”.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 16 months on charges linked to his activities on the student council at the West Bank’s Birzeit University.

Israel’s administrative detention law allows suspects to be held without trial for periods of six months, renewable indefinitely.

Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allan ended a two-month hunger strike in August last year and was freed in November.

In July, Khader Adnan was released after a 56-day hunger strike against his administrative detention, a procedure which dates back to Palestine under British mandate.

* Agence France-Presse