Hunger strike threatens health of Palestinian journalist in Israeli jail

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Palestinian Journalists’ syndicate (PJS) are deeply concerned over the health of a Palestinian journalist who has been on hunger strike for almost 50 days to protest against his imprisonment without trial by Israeli forces. Mohammad Al-Qiq, 33 and father of two, is a reporter for the Saudi news channel AlMajd. He was arrested without charge on 21 November 2015 at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah and was brutally interrogated by the Israeli police forces, PJS reported. Since mid-December, he has been placed under administrative detention, which allows imprisonment without trial for six-month periods renewable indefinitely. His file is labelled as “classified”. Al-Qiq was tortured during his detention, deprived from meeting a lawyer and denied family visits. As a sign of protest Al-Qiq started a hunger strike on 25 November. He was then moved to solitary confinement in Majjedo prison in northern Palestine. Al-Qiq was moved to the hospital wing of Ramle prison, central Israel, due to his deteriorating health. His wife said that he is vomiting blood and has lost 25 kilogrammes. She presumes that if he loses consciousness his doctors will feed him intravenously. A controversial Israeli law passed in July allows force-feeding of prisoners under certain circumstances, which could apply to Al-Qiq’s case. The PJS held the Israeli authorities responsible for Al-Qiq’s health and demanded his immediate release. PJS said that, “Israel is trying to keep all cameras, pens and media away from reporting what is happening in the occupied territories by arresting journalists.” Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary, said: “The IFJ is demanding Mohammad Al-Qiq’s immediate release. We also remind Israel of its obligation not to hold journalists prisoners on the sole basis of their profession.” It is the second time Al-Qiq has been behind Israeli bars. In 2008, he was jailed for 16 months for student activism which Israel says was linked to Hamas.

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