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Israel detains former hunger striker Muhammad al-Qiq after protest

Jan. 16, 2017 1:10 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 16, 2017 10:38 P.M.)
(File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Former hunger-striking prisoner and journalist Muhammad al-Qiq was detained by Israeli authorities on Sunday, after he participated in a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem held to demand the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody.

Palestinian news outlet al-Quds Network quotes al-Qiq's wife Fayhaa Shalash as saying that he immediately declared a hunger strike in protest of his detention.

Reports from social media and Palestinian news outlets announced on Monday that a march would be held in al-Manara square in Ramallah at 4 p.m. to call for his release, organized by family members of Palestinian prisoners and of slain Palestinians who had also participated in the Bethlehem rally.

Al-Quds reported that al-Qiq was detained at the Israeli military checkpoint of Beit El in the Ramallah district -- along with relatives of slain Palestinians Muhannad Shafiq Halabi, Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, and Hussein Muhammad Abu Ghush -- after the group was returning from Sunday’s protest.

Their vehicle was searched and the others were interrogated before Israeli authorities ultimately released them an hour later, while al-Qiq was taken to a detention center inside the illegal Israeli Beit El settlement.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports on the detention of al-Qiq.

The 34-year-old journalist, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from Israeli prison on May 19, 2016, after a grueling 94-day hunger strike that brought him near death.

Al-Qiq’s imprisonment -- widely condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other rights groups -- and his subsequent hunger strike, directed a spotlight on Israel’s use of administrative detention, its arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians, and the concerted targeting of Palestinian journalists.

Since his release, he has participated in several protests against Israel’s policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces.
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