Palestinian prisoner on 83rd day of hunger strike refuses offer to transfer hospitals


JERUSALEM (JTA) –  A Palestinian journalist on 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.

On Tuesday, the attorney for Muhammad al-Qiq, 33, told Israel’s Supreme Court that his Qiq rejected the offer to be sent to al-Makassid, a Palestinian hospital, the Palestinian Maan news service reported. The Supreme Court had offered its proposal on Monday and the hospital agreed to receive Qiq.

Qiq, who worked as a reporter for a Saudi television news station, had requested through his lawyer that he be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah, in the West Bank. He currently is hospitalized in HaEmek Medical Center in Afula.

“There is no difference between Afula and al-Makassid hospital for al-Qiq,” Ahmad Abu Muhammad of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society in Bethlehem told Maan. “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 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.

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.

Recommended from JTA