Israel remains indifferent to the life of the Palestinian journalist as his health deteriorates.
Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who is being detained by Israel without charge or trial, reached his 90th day of hunger strike on Monday.
Al-Qiq is being held at an Israeli hospital in Afula, where he is reportedly handcuffed to a hospital bed and guarded by Israeli police officers and dogs.
The 33 year old is a reporter for al-Majd, a Saudi news channel, and the father of two children.
Al-Qiq began his hunger strike, refusing food and medical treatment, three days after Israeli forces arrested him from his home in Ramallah on November 24th.
Israeli forces arrested al-Qiq under a six-month administrative detention order, meaning without charges or trial. While, international law dictates that administrative detention only be used by states in extreme cases and as a last resort, Israel uses it liberally against Palestinians. Today, there are 660 Palestinians held by Israel under administrative detention orders; 18 of them are journalists.
On February 15th, Israel’s high court rejected al-Qiq’s request to be transferred to a hospital in the West Bank, where he said he would accept medical attention.
His request was denied despite the fact that on February 4th Israeli authorities technically suspended his detention. Consequently, no one is sure about what the significance of the suspension actually is. The executive director of the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, said in a statement “al-Qiq’s liberty is currently being restricted by a non-existent authority” and accused Israel of concocting a “new legal myth – a person who is not free yet not detained.”
Palestinian activists have also organized demonstrations outside of the Afula hospital, despite threats and harassment by the Israeli police.
The presence of supportive people in and around the hospital is especially important considering Israel has refused al-Qiq’s wife’s requests to allow her and her two children to travel from the West Bank to visit him.
Moreover, as al-Qiq’s health has deteriorated, so too has Israeli forces' conduct at the hospital: on Saturday, Israeli forces raided the Afula hospital after al-Qiq suffered from spasms and seizures.
The next day, on Sunday, Israeli authorities ignored a deadline set by the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) to move al-Qiq to al-Makassed hospital Jerusalem and end his administrative detention. The PPS announced that if Israel ignored the deadline, they would cease to legally represent al-Qiq and stressed that the Israeli occupation bears sole responsibility for his life.
According to Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network, al-Qiq’s family announced on Monday that al-Qiq is now his own lawyer and the sole decision-maker regarding any agreement with Israel for his release.
Marking al-Qiq’s 90th day of hunger strike, the Minister’s Office of Palestinian Authority released a statement saying: “Al-Qiq’s arrest and subsequent detention without trial only highlight Israel’s draconian measures against Palestinians.”