Court Turns Down Palestinian Hunger-striker's Request to Move to Palestinian Hospital

Arab lawmaker calls move a 'death sentence' for al-Qiq, now in the 83rd day of his hunger strike, but court says he 'has the key to his welfare and his health.'

Palestinian journalist Mohammad al-Qiq, on hunger strike in Emek Medical Center in Afula.
AP

The High Court of Justice turned down a petition Tuesday by hunger-striking Palestinian Mohammed al-Qiq who requested to be moved from Haemek Hospital in Afula, Israel to a hospital in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Qiq, a journalist who Israel claims has ties to Hamas, has been on a hunger strike for 83 days in protest of his detention without trial. His petition argued that because the authorities had suspended his administrative detention, he should be allowed to freely move wherever he wants. He is demanding to be moved to a hospital in the Palestinian Authority given that his condition requires hospitalization.

Qiq’s attorney, Jawad Boulous said his client refused the court’s suggestion that he be moved to Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem.

In Tuesday’s hearing, Justice Eliyakim Rubinstein wrote that the court had proposed that Qiq be moved to Makassed or that he could suggest another hospital in Israel and his request would be dealt with, but that the court could not grant his petition to move to a hospital in the PA.

“The decision is not easy. We do not seek the death of the petitioner and neither do the respondents. We therefore held four hearings on the matter and requested daily medical updates and we renewed the case, which had already ended with a verdict, beyond the letter of the law. However, in the end the petitioner has the key to his welfare and his health, he and no other.  The suspension of his detention means that the risk from the petitioner has been reduced for now because of his medical conditionhe is not restrained and guarded like a detainee, and he receives visits freely,” Rubinstein noted.

A Palestinian man carrying a placard bearing a portrait of Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq at a demonstration north of Ramallah.
AFP

However, Rubinstein added, the detention order was not altogether rescinded and as Qiq’s medical condition stabilizes and the state could consider re-imposing detention, forces would have to be sent into the PA to arrest him, “and we must remember that we are talking about a terror activist, which could lead to difficulty and perhaps bloodshed,” Rubinstein wrote.

Rubinstein also hinted that force-feeding might not be ruled out: “It goes without saying that we do not wish for the petitioner that he reach a situation in which medical treatment is given him according to his physicians’ judgement although he has refused it so far – of course this is a possibility according to developments”

Tuesday’s High Court ruling drew any responses from Qiq’s family and many of his supporters. Sheikh Raed Salah, who heads the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee’s subcommittee on prisoners, called for a vigil outside the hospital and the launch of a mass hunger strike until Qiq’s release.

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) who is a lawyer, called the court’s ruling “a death sentence,” adding that “the prisoner al-Qiq has declared that he is willing to stop his hunger strike if charges are brought against him, because he is striking against the evil in administrative detention. Instead of lifting the administrative detention and saving al-Qiq’s life, the High Court once again bowed to the dictates of the security authorities and sacrifice humanitarian considerations,”

Jabareen also said the High Court had exceeded its authority in determining that Qiq was a militant without giving Qiq the chance to respond in court. “The verdict is more proof that the word ‘justice’ that appears in the name High Court of Justice, is not relevant to Palestinians under occupation for some five decades,” Jabareen added.