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PA: Israel preparing to force-feed Palestinian hunger striker

Jan. 12, 2016 1:07 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 12, 2016 9:21 P.M.)
An elderly man looks at pictures of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails during a protest in East Jerusalem on April 15, 2010. (AFP/File)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners' Affairs warned Tuesday that Israel was preparing to force-feed a Palestinian hunger striker, in what would be the first use of the controversial practice since it was approved by Israeli lawmakers last year.

Issa Qaraqe said that a medical team in Afula hospital had been formed to force-feed Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike since the end of November.

Qaraqe said that al-Qiq was in critical condition, along with two other Palestinian hunger strikers -- Kifah Hattab, who is also being held in Afula, and Abdullah Abu Jaber, in al-Ramla hospital.

Qaraqe said the Israeli Prison Service had refused to negotiate with the hunger strikers, and a medical team, consisting of three doctors, one psychiatrist, and a social worker, was now preparing to ingest fluids into al-Qiq intravenously.

Al-Qiq, a journalist from the village of Dura near Hebron, has been on hunger strike since Nov. 24.

He was moved to Afula hospital after losing 22 kilograms, and was reportedly unable to move without a wheelchair due to fatigue and exhaustion. He had previously been held in solitary confinement in al-Ramla hospital.

A spokesperson for Physicians for Human Rights Israel, which has been following al-Qiq's case closely, said she had no information about steps being taken to force-feed him.

She said that on Monday they had sent an urgent request to the Israeli Prison Service asking that an independent doctor be allowed to see the hunger striker.

As of Tuesday, however, they were still waiting for a reply.

The Israeli Knesset approved a law allowing prisoners on hunger strike to be force-fed if their condition becomes life-threatening in July last year.

The move sparked outcry from rights groups and medical experts, who said the practice was tantamount to torture.

The Israeli Medical Association called the law "damaging and unnecessary," stressing that its doctors would "continue to act according to medical ethics, which prohibit doctors from participating in torturing prisoners."

The UN said "the right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right" that the new Israeli law violated.
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