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Al-Qiq rejects court freeze on detention, continues hunger strike

Feb. 4, 2016 8:51 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2016 3:32 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq said Thursday he rejected an Israeli court decision to temporarily suspend his detention without trial and would continue a hunger strike that is now in its 72nd day.

The Palestinian Authority Committee of Prisoners' Affairs said the imprisoned journalist viewed the court ruling as an attempt to undermine his resistance against the "immoral and inhumane administrative detention," referring to Israel's internment of Palestinians without trial or charge.

Al-Qiq also said it was an attempt to undermine public and international opinion that is critical of Israeli policy.

The prisoners' committee said al-Qiq would not end his hunger strike unless Israel agreed to his full release. It added al-Qiq was refusing to receive medical treatment unless at a Palestinian hospital.

Earlier Thursday, the Israeli Supreme Court suspended his six-month administrative detention sentence citing medical concerns, with the sentence to be resumed upon an improvement of his health.

Qadura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoner's Society, decried it as a "bad decision," although he expressed hope al-Qiq might accept medical treatment while a more acceptable solution was sought.

Al-Qiq has said he will continue his hunger strike until "martyrdom or freedom."

Shackled to his bed, the 33-year-old journalist is now in critical condition and only able to communicate by written messages.

On Thursday morning, a member of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Dr. Mahmoud Mahamid, was able to visit al-Qiq in HaEmek Hospital, where he found him "at imminent risk of death."

The rights group said in a statement that Mahamid was concerned by al-Qiq's condition, but "encouraged" by the refusal of the hospital's medical staff to force treat him.

Al-Qiq initially went on hunger strike in late November to protest the torture and ill-treatment he said he faced in Israeli custody.

However, his protest quickly developed into another bid to challenge Israel's use of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charge.

Numerous Palestinian prisoners have undertaken hunger strikes to protest the controversial practice, including last year Khader Adnan and Muhammad Allan, who were both close to death by the time Israel agreed to their release.

Thursday's court ruling mirrors a decision taken last year to temporarily freeze the administrative detention of hunger-striker Allan.

Allan continued his hunger strike following that decision and he only agreed to end the protest when Israel promised not to renew his administrative detention.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society has said that Israel's security establishment has so far shown little willingness to negotiate on al-Qiq's release.

During previous hunger strikes, Israel feared that prisoners' deaths might spark unrest in the occupied Palestinian territory, but unrest has already shaken the territory for months, and Fares said last week that the security establishment now believe they have "nothing to lose."

Muhammad al-Qiq after 72 days on hunger strike is only able to communicate by written messages.
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