Sixteen senior Hamas operatives imprisoned in Israel say they have launched a hunger strike Sunday in support of Palestinian detainee Mohammed al-Qiq, who has been refusing food and drink for nearly three months.
According to an announcement made by the prisoners, their own hunger strike will include no intake of fluids or water. The plan is to increase the number of participants daily, encompassing all prisons throughout Israel.
Two Israeli activists also said over the weekend they would join the hunger strike. Anat Lev and Dr. Anat Rimon-Or demonstrated in front of the President’s Residence and called for President Reuven Rivlin to intervene in the matter. The activists had previously been protesting outside Haemek Hospital, Afula, where Qiq is being detained.
Qiq has not eaten for some 82 days. According to his family, there are serious concerns that his internal organs will fail, leading to rapid death. Although his administrative detention had been suspended due to his condition, Qiq has been prohibited from leaving the hospital in Afula without Israel’s permission. He is therefore continuing his hunger strike.
His attorneys said they had suggested a compromise in which he would be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah and his detention shortened, but Israel has yet to respond, they said.
Qiq’s family issued an urgent call to human rights groups on Friday, asking them to act immediately to try and transfer him to a hospital in his hometown of Ramallah, given his grave condition. According to his family, Qiq is suffering pain all over his body and has started experiencing chest pains as well. They are worried he’ll have a stroke or heart attack.
On Friday, a prayer session was held in an open space outside Haemek Hospital. The prayer was led by Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, who called for Qiq’s immediate release. He said that “in this campaign, using his empty stomach, Qiq is fighting for his liberty, in face of the arbitrariness and oppression of the Israeli authorities.”
The prayer session was part of a public campaign and one of many gatherings outside the Afula hospital in recent days. The aim is to intensify public action, in the absence of any response from the Israeli authorities.
There are demonstrations in support of Qiq in Palestinian towns across the West Bank on an almost daily basis.
Qiq, 33, is a journalist who often gave interviews with media outlets affiliated with Hamas, and is considered critical of the Palestinian Authority.
He was arrested by Israeli security forces on November 21 in connection with 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 recently. “Mohammed believes he didn’t commit any violations, which is why he started a hunger strike.”
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