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Muhammad al-Qiq loses ability to walk amid ongoing hunger strike

Feb. 24, 2017 3:52 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2017 8:29 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad al-Qiq has lost his ability to walk due to extreme exhaustion after at least 18 days without food, his lawyer reported on Friday.

Khalid Zabarqa said that al-Qiq was in a wheelchair during a recent visit to Israel’s Ramle prison hospital, where the hunger striker is being kept after Israeli authorities transferred al-Qiq from Israel’s Jalama prison due to the deterioration of his health.

Zabarqa noted that al-Qiq was suffering from constant coughing, weight loss, and a perpetual headache. He has also refused to undergo any medical checkups related to his hunger strike.

Zabarqa added that the doctors said that al-Qiq could be suffering from uveitis in his left eye, while highlighting that the health of al-Qiq has been consistently worsening each day.

Al-Qiq declared a hunger strike for the second time on Feb. 6 after being sentenced to administrative detention -- an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence and used almost exclusively against Palestinians.

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 having gone without food for a grueling 94 days -- also to protest his administrative detention at the time.

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

According to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun, Israeli authorities had not garnered confessions or issued charges against al-Qiq as of late January, although they had earlier expressed that they were investigating him for alleged “incitement” on social media, amid a crackdown on freedom of expression among Palestinian activists and journalists.

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.

Al-Qiq was one of a number of prominent Palestinian hunger strikers in 2016, who included the Balboul brothers who went without food for 77 and 79 days, Malik al-Qadi for 68 days, Bilal Kayid for 71 days.
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