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UN calls for release of Palestinian journalist on hunger strike

Feb. 3, 2016 7:48 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 4, 2016 12:06 P.M.)
Photo Credit: PLO Negotiations Affairs Department Twitter
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A senior UN official voiced alarm over the rapidly deteriorating health condition of Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who entered day 71 on hunger strike Wednesday.

UN official Robert Piper in a statement released Tuesday pointed to the possibility of irreversible damage caused to al-Qiq should the strike continue against “the arbitrary nature of his detention and ill-treatment” in Israeli prison.

“I reiterate the United Nations’ long-standing position that all administrative detainees -- Palestinian or Israeli -- should be charged or released without delay,” Piper said.

“All allegations of ill-treatment must also be independently and promptly investigated,” the UN official added.

Al-Qiq initially launched his strike on Nov. 24 shortly after being detained by Israeli forces and held under administrative detention without trial or charge, joining at least 660 other Palestinians held in prison under the measure.

Israeli authorities have indicated he is suspected for "incitement," working with Hamas-affiliated media, and being a "threat to security," but all evidence against him has so far been withheld.

A lawyer for the Palestinian Authority's Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Ashraf Abu Sneinah, told Ma’an Wednesday that al-Qiq had lost at least 60 kilos since launching the hunger strike, referring to the detainee as a “skeleton.”

The head of the committee, Issa Qaraqe, said the committee had reason to believe that a medical ethics committee in Israel’s HaEmek Hospital where al-Qiq is held had made a decision to force treatment on him due to the deterioration of his health.

Qaraqe added that Palestinian doctor Mahmoud Mahamid will visit al-Qiq in the hospital on Thursday to evaluate his health, prior to an Israeli Supreme Court session expected to take place the same day.

The committee urged the PA to take serious action for the release of al-Qiq, who they said could “die at any minute.”

Israeli doctors at the hospital forced treatment on al-Qiq against his will last month, bringing condemnation from international rights group Amnesty International who accused Israel of torture and ill-treatment against the journalist.

Despite the effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority in the past to negotiate the release of Palestinian hunger strikers, the body has yet to show influence over al-Qiq’s release.

An Israeli Supreme Court hearing for al-Qiq’s case is scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

A decision on the detainee’s case was last delayed in a court session held on Jan. 27, when the court approved to continue al-Qiq's administrative detention until his medical condition had been examined.
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