Mohammed al-Qiq hunger strike enters 'unchartered territory'

Mohammed al-Qiq hunger strike enters 'unchartered territory'
Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq's hunger strike surpasses 89 days, a longer protest fast than those recorded in Palestine and Ireland.
3 min read
22 February, 2016
Doctors have said the length of al-Qiq's strike is in "unchartered medical territory"
A Palestinian journalist imprisoned by Israel has entered uncharted medical territory with a hunger strike of 89 days, longer than protest fasts by other Palestinians or by prisoners in Northern Ireland in 1981, an advocacy group said Monday.

Mohammed al-Qiq, 33 is under observation at an Israeli hospital, but has refused all treatment unless he is released.

A doctor who visited him earlier this month described his condition as "extremely grave" and said al-Qiq could barely speak or even hear.

Al-Qiq's protest highlights Israel's divisive practice of holding hundreds of Palestinians at a given time without charges or trial.

Al-Qiq began his hunger strike 25 November to win release from so-called administrative detention.

Israel says the tactic is an important security tool, especially at a time of increased Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Al-Qiq's fate was raised in recent top-level meetings, including talks Sunday between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Nickolay Mladenov, the international peace envoy to the Middle East, told the UN Security Council last week that he is "deeply concerned" about al-Qiq and demanded that all administrative detainees held by Israel - 584 as of December - be either charged or released.

Palestinians have been protesting in solidarity with al-Qiq [al-Araby]
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, an advocacy group, said Monday that al-Qiq has been on a hunger strike longer than any other Palestinian detainee or any of the participants in 1981 protest strikes by Irish Republican Army prisoners held by Britain in Northern Ireland.

Ten of the Irish hunger strikers died after extended fasts, the longest lasting 73 days. The previous two longest hunger strikes by Palestinian detainees were 66 and 67 days.

Al-Qiq is in "unknown territory" medically because of the length of his fast, said Amani Dayif of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

"All medical literature depends on experiences from the past, and in all the experiences, there is no case of any hunger striker who has taken the Irish model, only drinking water, for this long," she said.

Al-Qiq twice received dietary supplements against his wishes or while unconscious, for a total of five days, according to his wife, Faiha. She said he refused all supplements when he regained consciousness.

She said she supports her husband's decision to continue the strike and avert the possibility of repeated open-ended detentions.

"It is true, his life is at risk, but what is the alternative?" she said.

Dr. Mahmoud Mahamid, who visited al-Qiq at the Israeli hospital on 4 February, said that day that al-Qiq "reiterated his refusal to be examined or treated as long as he is not released." Mahamid said they communicated by exchanging notes.

A hospital spokeswoman said she was not allowed to discuss al-Qiq's condition.

Earlier this month, Israel's Supreme Court suspended al-Qiq's detention, leaving him in legal uncertainty.

Kadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, said Monday that al-Qeq's lawyers demand that Israel set a firm release date of 21 May, and are awaiting an Israeli response.