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Palestinian hunger striker refuses to be moved to East Jerusalem hospital

Published February 16th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
Mohammed al Qiqi, photographed when he was in good health. (Twitter)
Mohammed al Qiqi, photographed when he was in good health. (Twitter)

A Palestinian journalist in his 83rd day of a hunger strike to protest being held in administrative detention refused an offer to be transferred to an eastern Jerusalem hospital.

Mohammad al-Qiq, 33, had requested through his lawyer that he be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah. He currently is hospitalized in HaEmek Medical Center in Afula.

On Tuesday, Qiq's attorney told Israel's Supreme Court that the hunger striker rejected the offer to be transferred to al-Makassid, a Palestinian hospital in eastern Jerusalem, the Palestinian Maan news service reported. The Supreme Court had offered its proposal on Monday. The hospital agreed to receive Qiq if he authorized the transfer.

"There is no difference between Afula and al-Makassid hospital for al-Qiq," Ahmad Abu Muhammad of the Palestinian Prisoners' Society in Bethlehem told Ma'an. "If he decides to go to Jerusalem, they will take him, put two or three soldiers by his bed. It will be exactly the same."

Maan reported Monday that Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer with the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners' Affairs, said in a statement that Qiq was suffering sharp pain in his chest and numbness in his face. He also had begun "shouting loudly, and screaming 'Let me hear my son's voice, please God,'" the statement said.

Qiq reportedly is at risk of heart attack, stroke and total systemic failure. He has refused all treatment and has taken only plain water, refusing the infusion of minerals.

Earlier this month, Israel's Supreme Court suspended Qiq's detention due to his failing health from the hunger strike and offered to release him by May 1 if he halted his hunger strike. Qiq reportedly responded that he would not accept an offer unless it ended his detention immediately and allowed him to be treated in a Palestinian hospital.

Qiq, who worked as a reporter for a Saudi television news station, has said he will continue the strike until "martyrdom or freedom," according to Maan. He is protesting being held by Israel in administrative detention since Nov. 24.

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 rights organization.

Under administrative detention, a prisoner can be held for six months without being charged or tried. The order can be renewed indefinitely.

Qiq has been jailed by Israel before, including a month in 2003 and 13 months in 2004, the French news agency AFP reported. 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, according to AFP.

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