High Court Suspends Detention of Hunger-striking Palestinian Journalist

Mohammed Al-Qiq says he will continue in hunger strike since his appeal to cancel administrative detention has not been accepted.

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Mohammed Al-Qiq communicates from his hospital bed.
Mohammed Al-Qiq communicates from his hospital bed.Credit: Courtesy

The High Court of Justice decided on Thursday to temporarily suspend the administrative detention warrant against Palestinian journalist Mohammed Al-Qiq due to his deteriorating medical condition.

Al-Qiq announced that he will continue in his hunger strike, since the court's ruling does not enable him to live freely and did not cancel the warrant against him but only suspended it.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society added that the court's decision essentially lacks meaning, since it limits his freedom by ordering him to stay in hospital and instructing him to appeal to authorities should he wish to be removed to a different one.

Al-Qiq will remain in hospital for observation and treatment, and if he wishes to move to a different hospital he would have to file an appeal to authorities on the matter, said his attorney, Jawad Boulos.

According to Boulos, who heads the legal department of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, the decision is disappointing as an appeal for Al-Qiq's case had in the first place asked to cancel the warrant and release Al-Qiq, and not condition it on his medical condition.

The court's decision enables Al-Qiq to receive visits by family members, a move which to date had not been permitted.

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who together with another two justices ruled on the suspension of the warrant, said that "following the continuing hunger strike and in light of neurological deficits of hearing problems and difficulty speaking, headaches, sore feet and extreme witness, doctors believe that the patient is currently, and in fact has been lately, in grave danger and at a high risk of sudden death."

"This has been explained to the petitioner again, but he refuses any treatment, he's fully conscious but sleepy and very weak. There is gradual deterioration by the day," he added.   

On Wednesday, the ethics committee of Ha’amek Hospital in Afula convened with representatives from the Israel Prison Service to discuss the case of Al-Qiq, who has been on a hunger strike for 72 days to protest his detention without trial. Demonstrations and vigils protesting Al-Qiq’s detention were being held throughout the West Bank and in front of the hospital. 

Al-Qiq, 33, is a journalist from Ramallah who often gave interviews with media outlets affiliated with Hamas, and is considered critical of the Palestinian Authority.  

He was arrested on November 21 in connection with his alleged involvement in terror activities. But his family is convinced he is being detained because of his writing. "He is accused of incitement and making contact with people in Gaza and elsewhere," his wife said. "Mohammed believes he didn't make any violations, which is why he started a hunger strike. We are worried for his life."