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Hunger-striker 'on brink of death,' says lawyer, as health worsens

Feb. 12, 2016 10:19 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2016 1:06 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Imprisoned Palestinian hunger-striker Muhammad al-Qiq has suffered a major health setback, a Palestinian Authority official said on Friday.

A lawyer for the PA Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Hiba Masalha, who has been visiting al-Qiq in the HaEmek hospital, said the Palestinian journalist’s condition was worsening with every passing moment.

Al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for nearly 80 days, "has entered a very dangerous stage," she said.

“He is on the brink of death, and we might hear news of his martyrdom at any moment, especially due to fears that he might suffer from a stroke," Masalha added.

Al-Qiq, a 33-year-old Palestinian journalist and father of two, began his hunger strike in November to protest his administrative detention by Israel -- internment without trial or charge.

Masalha said al-Qiq was suffering from acute chest and heart pains, fever, severe pain in the knees and extremities and recurrent muscle spasms.

Al-Qiq had previously lost his ability to speak, and his vision and hearing have also been severely affected.

Earlier on Friday, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society said it had filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court requesting al-Qiq’s transfer to a Palestinian hospital, after al-Qiq started refusing treatment at the Israeli hospital where he is currently being held.

Due to his poor health, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 4 to temporarily suspend his detention, which would resume once his health improved.

Al-Qiq rejected the ruling, saying he would not end his hunger strike unless Israel agreed to his full release.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society on Wednesday said Israel was "not showing attention or willingness" to solve al-Qiq’s case and held the Israeli authorities "completely responsible" for his life.

Israel has negotiated in cases of hunger strikes launched by Palestinian prisoners in the past out of fear that prisoners' deaths could spark unrest in the occupied Palestinian territory, but the territory has already faced months of turmoil.

The head of the Palestinian Prisoner's Society, Qadura Fares, said earlier this month that the Israeli security establishment now believes it has "nothing to lose" by failing to release al-Qiq before his death.
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