Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad al-Qiq could die 'any moment'

Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad al-Qiq could die 'any moment'
The health of the Palestinian journalist is deteriorating rapidly in an Israeli jail, as his family and rights groups call for immediate action.
3 min read
25 January, 2016
Qiq was arrested in November at his home in the city of Ramallah [Getty]

A Palestinian journalist on a two-month hunger strike in an Israeli jail could die at any minute, his lawyer warned on Monday.

Mohammad al-Qiq's health is "very, very bad", lawyer Jawad Boulus told AFP after a visit on Sunday. "He faces the possibility of death at any moment."

Qiq, a 33-year-old father of two and a correspondent for Saudi Arabia's al-Majd TV network, was arrested on November 21 at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah and is being held under Israel's controversial administrative detention law.

He has been refusing food since November 25 in protest against the "torture and ill treatment that he was subjected to during interrogation", according to Addameer, a Palestinian human rights organisation.

But 61 days since his strike began, Qiq's organs are now at risk of failure.

Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic security service, alleges Qiq is an active member of the Islamist group Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.

Administrative detention laws allow Israel to jail suspects without trial for six-month periods - renewable indefinitely - a policy which has been condemned by human rights advocates.

Qiq was transferred to hospital in the Israeli city of Afula about a month ago, a prisons authority spokeswoman said.

His family have previously said they expect Israel to feed him intravenously if he loses consciousness, though Israeli authorities have denied they will force-feed him.

At 61 days since his strike began, Mohammad al-Qiq's organs are at risk of failure

A controversial Israeli law passed in July allows the force-feeding of prisoners in certain circumstances, though it has not yet been invoked.

Over the weekend, human rights group Amnesty International called on Israeli authorities to immediately cease all non-consensual medical treatment and other punitive measures against Qiq.

The London-based group said that authorities had undertaken a number of measures aimed at pressuring him to end the hunger strike, some of which violated the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.

"Mohammed has forcibly received intravenous drugs which we fear prelude force-feeding attempts," Mohammed's wife Shalash told The New Arab.

The family have also appealed to United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to lobby Israel on their behalf.

Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority's head of prisoners' affairs told The New Arab that it was "likely" that Israel would start force-feeding Qiq, making him the first prisoner to undergo the practice since it was legalised by Israel's parliament.

In August of last year, Israel made moves to force-feed Mohammad Allan, who nearly died after his two-month hunger strike in protest at his detention without charge or trial. But doctors said they would refuse to carry out the controversial procedure on Allan.

Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "personally bears responsibility for Qiq's life".

Qiq was jailed for a month in 2003 and then for 13 months in 2004.

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

Israel is holding approximately 6,800 Palestinian political prisoners, according to the rights group Addameer.