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Israel denying hunger-striker family visits

Feb. 19, 2016 4:42 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 20, 2016 10:20 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli intelligence services have refused to allow the family of Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq to visit him over the course of his 87 days on hunger strike, the Palestinian Authority Committee of Prisoners' Affairs said Friday.

The committee said in a statement that their decision contradicts an earlier ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court allowing family visits to the 33-year-old journalist, who is now in critical condition.

Al-Qiq has requested that he be allowed to see his family, the committee said. One of the committee's lawyers, Hanan al-Khatib, said earlier this week that he had started "shouting loudly, and screaming: 'Let me hear my son's voice, please God."

The committee said it would continue making efforts to secure the necessary permits to allow his family to visit him.

Al-Qiq went on hunger strike in late November to protest his administrative detention -- internment without trial or charge.

Israel's Supreme Court earlier ruled to temporarily "suspend" al-Qiq's administrative detention, but said it would be reinstated if his health improved.

Amnesty International criticized the ruling, saying it appeared to be "a mere gesture, designed to offer the illusion of freedom to prompt al-Qiq to end his hunger strike."

Israel has negotiated in cases of hunger strikes launched by Palestinian prisoners in the past out of fear that prisoners’ death could spark unrest in the occupied Palestinian territory, but the territory has already seen months of unrest.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Society head 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.

Al-Qiq has vowed to maintain his strike until transferred a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah and released from Israeli custody, requests that were most recently denied by Israel's High Court of Justice earlier this week.

Prominent Israeli rights group B'Tselem referred to the ruling as a “new low in the instrumentalist approach to human beings.”
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