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Israeli court delays decision on fate of hunger-striking prisoner

Jan. 27, 2016 6:32 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 28, 2016 11:30 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Supreme Court delayed on Wednesday its decision on whether or not to release a Palestinian journalist held under Israeli custody whose 64-day hunger strike has brought him close to death.

The head of the legal department of the Palestinian Authority's Committee for Prisoners' Affairs, Iyad Misk, said that the court approved to continue Muhammad al-Qiq's administrative detention until his medical condition had been examined.

Al-Qiq, a 33-year-old journalist from the southern West Bank town of Dura, began his hunger strike in November to protest his administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial.

The committee said al-Qiq’s lawyers had called on the court to lift his administrative detention and to release him due to his critical health condition.

The committee’s head, Issa Qaraqe, said that the court’s decision was “careless” with al-Qiq’s life, adding that by not releasing the journalist, the court was providing legal cover for his death, and he demanded that the international community pressure Israel to save his life.

The European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah meanwhile said in a statement on Wednesday that they were “very concerned about the deteriorating health condition of the Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq.”

“The EU calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all prisoners,” the statement read. “Detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention, must be granted access to legal assistance, and be subject to a fair trial.”

Al-Qiq's hunger strike has received wide attention across the occupied Palestinian territory, and is being viewed as yet another bid to challenge Israel's use of administrative detention, under which prisoners may be held without trial or charge for renewable six-month periods.

The Israeli authorities have suggested that al-Qiq is being held for "incitement," working with Hamas-affiliated media, and being a "threat to security," although Amnesty International said last week that withholding al-Qiq on secret evidence was unlawful.

An investigation by the rights group also revealed that al-Qiq had been mistreated and tortured during his administrative detention.

The PA prisoners' committee also warned Tuesday that further deterioration of al-Qiq's health or his potential death could have far-reaching consequences for Israel politically, including popular unrest among Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
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