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Israeli court rejects appeal for hunger-striking journalist

Jan. 16, 2016 4:27 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 1, 2016 8:03 P.M.)
Palestinian children in the northern West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin, add pictures to a wall covered in posters of Palestinians held in Israeli jails on April 16, 2012. (AFP/Saif Dahlah, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military court of the Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank rejected an appeal to end the administrative detention of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq on Saturday.

The head of the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Issa Qaraqe told Ma’an that the court ruled to maintain the six-month administrative detention period for al-Qiq, despite the continuation of a more than 50-day hunger strike by the prisoner.

Al-Qiq began the strike on Nov. 24, 2015, to protest his administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold him on secret evidence without charge for six-month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely.

Qaraqe said the court’s rejection of the appeal “proves intentions of revenge” by Israel against the Palestinian prisoner, referring to al-Qiq’s detention as arbitrary as Israeli prosecution had yet to press specific charges against him.

A lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Jawad Boulos, told Ma’an earlier this week that the 33-year-old journalist has been held at the HaEmek Medical Center in Afula handcuffed to a hospital bed, and that he was in critical condition.

Head of the society, Qadura Fares said that as of Thursday, the Israeli Prison Service had given no indication it was willing to negotiate with al-Qiq.

While the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners' Affairs warned that the Israeli authorities may be preparing to force-feed al-Qiq, Physicians for Human Rights Israel told Ma'an on Wednesday that doctors at HaEmek Medical Center had "no intention" of force-feeding him.

Al-Qiq, a journalist with Filistine al-Yawm and father of two, is one of many Palestinian prisoners to use hunger strike to protest administrative detention in Israeli jails.

While the policy is permissible under international law in extreme circumstances, critics argue that Israel uses it as a punitive measure on a routine basis to circumvent the justice system.

Several Palestinians last year were able to secure their release from Israeli custody following grueling hunger strikes, including Khader Adnan, who was released after 56 days on hunger strike, and Muhammad Allan, after 66 days.

Both hunger strikes brought the prisoners close to death.

Over 660 Palestinians were being held by the Israeli Prison Service under administrative detention as of last month, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer.
Al-Qiq, a journalist with Filistine al-Yawm and father of two, began his hunger strike on Nov. 24 to protest his administrative detention.
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