Palestinian hunger striker rejects Israeli offer of May 1 release

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) – A Palestinian journalist on the 75th day of a hunger strike has rejected Israel’s offer to release him by May 1.

Muhammad al-Qiq, 33, is protesting being held by Israel in administrative detention since Nov. 24.

Qiq rejected the offer, reportedly saying that he will not accept an offer unless it ends his detention immediately and allows him to be treated in a Palestinian hospital, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Qiq, who lost his ability to speak due to the hunger strike and only communicates in writing, said he will continue his hunger strike until “martyrdom or freedom,” according to Maan.

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The offer comes days after Israel’s Supreme Court suspended Qiq’s detention due to his failing health from his hunger strike. Under the Supreme Court order, Qiq would not be allowed to leave the hospital without permission and his family is allowed to visit him. The order did not cancel, just suspended, his detention.

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

On Saturday, Maan quoted a doctor at HaEmek Medical Center in Afula as saying Qiq was in danger of imminent death.

“Each minute marks serious threat to his life, because it is probable that his inner organs will stop operating at any moment, leading to immediate death,” the doctor said, according to Maan.

Doctors at the hospital have refused to force feed Qiq, despite a law passed in July that allows hospital to do so.

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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