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Al-Qiq ends 94-day hunger strike after deal struck with Israel

Feb. 26, 2016 12:07 P.M. (Updated: March 23, 2016 1:30 P.M.)
The wife of Palestinian imprisoned journalist Mohammed al-Qiq, Fayha Shalash, flanked by her son Islam, during a press conference in January. (AFP/Abbas Momani, File)
By: Killian Redden

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq on Friday ended a grueling 94-day hunger strike that has brought him close to death after his lawyers struck an eleventh hour deal with the Israeli authorities.

Qadura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoner's Society, told Ma'an that while Israel had not agreed to al-Qiq's immediate release, a "compromise" had been reached.

Israel's six-month administrative detention sentence against al-Qiq will not be renewed, while his lawyers managed to push the date of his release to May 21, he said.

The date will mark exactly six months since al-Qiq was detained from his home in Ramallah on Nov. 21, as opposed to six months from the date he was sentenced on Dec. 17.

"The military order will be the last one," Fares said.

He added that al-Qiq would also be allowed visits from his family, including his wife, two children, and father.

Israel has also agreed to transfer the hunger-striker to any hospital in Israel, although Fares said they had not agreed to transfer him to a hospital in the occupied Palestinian territory.

He said al-Qiq was now accepting medical treatment and was allowing doctors in HaEmek Medical Center, where he has been held for most of his hunger strike, to examine him.

The Israeli army confirmed al-Qiq's current sentence would end on May 21, although it said the situation would then "be examined to determine whether there is new information or security circumstances which require extending detention."

A spokesperson for Israel's prison authorities was unable to comment on the deal, which she said had been negotiated solely by the army.

Al-Qiq, a 33-year-old journalist, has been in critical condition for days now, with doctors and rights groups repeatedly warning that he has stood on the cusp of death.

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

Their hunger strikes were far shorter than al-Qiq's -- standing at 55 days and 66 days respectively.

Fares warned earlier this month that the Israeli security establishment seemed less willing to negotiate on al-Qiq's release, believing they had "nothing to lose" by allowing him to die.

Numerous international bodies, including the UN and European Union, condemned Israel for its continued incarceration of al-Qiq, as well its use of administrative detention for nearly 700 other Palestinian prisoners.
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