Palestinian Sources: Israel Holding Talks on Arrest Conditions of Hunger-striker

Palestinian journalist Al-Qiq still on hunger strike after 74 days in detention, despite deterioration in medical condition.

Mohammed Al-Qiq communicates from his hospital bed.
Courtesy

Israel is holding talks over the arrest conditions of hunger-striking Palestinian journalist Mohammed Al-Qiq, Palestinian sources told Haaretz Saturday night.

The sources confirmed that for the first time since Al-Qiq began his hunger strike, security officials are talking with Palestinians to try to reach an agreement. The Palestinian decided to continue his strike on Thursday, despite a severe deterioration in his condition and a court suspension of his administrative arrest. The ruling left Al-Qiq in the hospital, but permitted him to be visited by his family.

According to the source, the sides are believed to be trying to reach an arrangement so that the period of his arrest be shortened and that the warrant against him not be renewed.

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.  

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

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."

The Palestinian Prisoners Society said that the court's decision essentially lacked 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 has since remained in hospital for observation and treatment, said his attorney, Jawad Boulos.

According to Boulos, who heads the legal department of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, the decision was 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.

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.