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Al-Qiq continues refusing medical checks as fellow prisoner ends hunger strike

March 1, 2017 2:00 P.M. (Updated: March 2, 2017 10:27 A.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike in Israeli prison for 24 days in protest of being held without charge or trial, said that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) had stipulated that he must undergo IPS medical checks -- something he has refused -- as a precondition to fulfilling his request to be moved to a civilian hospital.

Al-Qiq's lawyer, Khalid Zabarqa, said in a statement that IPS doctors at the Ramle prison clinic, where al-Qiq is being held, were trying to force him to undergo medical checks in what al-Qiq believed was an attempt by the IPS to “bargain” with the journalist and “break his will.”

Al-Qiq refused to undergo the checks, as he considers rejecting prison medical checks part of his hunger strike, which so far has resulted in the loss of his ability to walk due to extreme exhaustion.

Zabarqa added that about a week ago, IPS moved al-Qiq to solitary confinement as he continued with his hunger strike, consuming only water and refusing vitamins and supplements.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Wednesday that al-Qiq was suffering from pains all over his body, exhaustion and dizziness, but that he had expressed his intention to continue his hunger strike despite the imprisonment conditions and his deteriorated health.

Al-Qiq, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from prison in May last year after he refused food for a grueling 94 days -- also in protest of his administrative detention at the time.

However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January after he participated in a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem demanding the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody.

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

Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun reported on Tuesday that Raed Fayez Mteir, 47, ended his hunger strike on the 12th day, after reaching an agreement to be released in April 2017, without his administrative detention being renewed.

Mteir had declared his hunger strike on Feb 16, along with fellow Qalandiya refugee camp resident Jamal Abu al-Leil, 50, after being imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial for one year under the widely condemned policy of administrative detention.

Israeli authorities have issued six-month administrative detention orders for the two prisoners three times since they were detained.

Abu al-Leil is a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, while Mteir is head of the Qalandiya youth center. Both had been previously detained by Israel several times.

For at least three consecutive days this week, activist youth from Qalandiya camp, located in the central occupied West Bank, blocked off a main road connecting Ramallah to Jerusalem in solidarity with Mteir and Abu al-Leil, calling for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to intervene to secure the release of the prisoners.

While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups say that Israel's administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has long been accused of security coordination with Israel and what critics have called "a revolving door policy" of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons through politically motivated arrests.

According to Addameer, as of January, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 536 of whom were being held under administrative detention.

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