Israel-held journalist ends 94-day hunger strike

2016-02-26 16:13
A February 10 picture of Mohammed al-Qeq at the Emek Medical Centre in Afula. (Ariel Schalit, AP)

A February 10 picture of Mohammed al-Qeq at the Emek Medical Centre in Afula. (Ariel Schalit, AP)

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Dura - A Palestinian journalist held by Israel without trial, Mohammed al-Qiq, agreed on Friday to end his 94-day hunger strike under a deal for his release in May, an NGO announced.

"An agreement has been reached under which his administrative detention will end on May 21 and will not be renewed," the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said, referring to Qiq's imprisonment without trial.

"He is ending his hunger strike today (on Friday)," said the NGO which has been defending his case.

The Israeli army, in a statement, was less categorical on his release.

"He will continue to remain in custody until May 21 2016. On that date, the situation will be examined to determine whether there is new information or security circumstances which require extending detention," it said.

But for Qiq's family and supporters it was a victory.

"The determination of the detained journalist Mohammed al-Qiq has won," his wife Fayha Shalash told reporters at the family home in the southern West Bank village of Dura.

She said her husband would remain in the Afula hospital of northern Israel until his release.- Mainly only tap water -

The 33-year-old reporter for Saudi television channel Al-Majd started his fast on November 25 in protest at the "torture and ill treatment that he was subjected to during interrogation", according to Addameer, a Palestinian rights organisation.

Qiq has occasionally taken minerals and vitamins but mainly drank only tap water, say doctors who have visited him in hospital in Afula.

He had previously conditioned ending his fast on being transferred to a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah, under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction.

Israel's Supreme Court turned down the demand and make a counter-proposal to move him to Palestinian-run Makassed hospital in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Qiq turned down the court proposal saying Makassed was located in an area under Israeli sovereignty and police could enter at will to rearrest him.

The United Nations has expressed concern about his fate and the International Committee of the Red Cross described his condition as critical.

Qiq was arrested on November 21 in Ramallah.

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service says he was detained for "terror activity" on behalf of the Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, a charge he denies.

He was jailed for a month in 2003 and then for 13 months in 2004 for Hamas-related activities.

In 2008, Qiq was sentenced to 16 months on charges linked to his activities on the student council at the West Bank's Birzeit University.

Read more on:    israel  |  palestine

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