Deadline passes in negotiation to save hunger striker

Palestinians in Gaza City rally in solidarity with hunger striking journalist Muhammed al-Qiq, on 21 February.

Mohammed Asad APA images

Lawyers from the Palestinian Prisoners Club gave Israel a hard deadline on Sunday night to accept an offer from Muhammad al-Qiq to be transferred to al-Makassed hospital, a Palestinian medical facility in occupied East Jerusalem.

There, the gravely ill journalist would have ended his hunger strike on condition that Israel promised not to renew his administrative detention order.

For 89 days, the 33-year-old al-Qiq has consumed nothing but water to protest his detention without charge or trial.

For most of that time, al-Qiq has been held at an Israeli hospital in the north of present-day Israel.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club announced in a press release that it had given Israel until 9 pm on Sunday night to respond to the offer.

The group said that if Israel failed to respond, it would reveal previously undisclosed details of al-Qiq’s case at a press conference on Monday.

The club also threatened to cease representing al-Qiq, stating that “Israel alone bears the responsibility” for his life.

But as the deadline passed, Israel had not responded, and the Palestinian Prisoners Club announced it had informed Israel that it had “ceased following up on the case.”

Police dogs

Israeli special forces and police dogs have been placed outside Muhammad al-Qiq’s hospital room at HaEmek hospital in Afula.

Al-Qiq’s wife, Fahya Shalash, and lawyers believe the bolstered security presence means Israel is preparing for his imminent death.

Hours before the forces’ arrival, al-Qiq reportedly suffered spasms and seizures.

Meanwhile Shalash and the couple’s two young children have been barred by Israel from traveling to Afula to be by al-Qiq’s bedside.

On Sunday, Israel’s high court refused to hear a petition by Shalash to allow her to travel into present-day Israel to be with her husband.

As al-Qiq has reached the end of his options to appeal to Israel’s high court, political negotiations had reportedly advanced.

On Friday, the Palestinian Prisoners Club reported that a possible deal between al-Qiq and Israel’s attorney general’s office was imminent.

But Israel has refused to assure al-Qiq and his family that they would not re-arrest him as soon as his health improved.

Shalash has repeatedly appealed to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to intervene urgently to save her husband’s life.

Shalash told a press conference on Saturday that Abbas had promised her that her husband would be released within 24 hours. On Sunday, however, Shalash told the Quds news outlet that there had been no movement.

Al-Qiq had rejected the high court’s initial offer on 15 February to transfer him to al-Makassed, demanding that he be released to the occupied West Bank.

The court has continued to refuse al-Qiq’s transfer to the West Bank despite the fact that on 4 February it had ostensibly suspended his detention.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says that al-Qiq is now being detained without any legal authority and that the high court has effectively “concocted a new legal myth – a person who is not free, yet is not detained.”

Force-feeding not ruled out

Though reports have indicated that al-Qiq may not survive even if he does begin treatment immediately, Israeli doctors have said that they will take “life-saving measures” if his condition deteriorates much further.

Al-Qiq has refused any medical treatment so long as he is in Israeli custody.

On Sunday, Israel’s high court heard a petition by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel against Israel’s law legalizing force-feeding of hunger striking prisoners.

The World Medical Association has described the practice as “tantamount to torture” in response to the Israeli law.

Attorneys representing the Israeli Medical Association and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights argued before the court that the law violated Israel’s patient’s rights law by administering treatment without the patient’s consent.

The lawyers said the force-feeding law was not intended to save lives but as tool of the state against Palestinian prisoners.

Israel’s parliament legalized force-feeding last July. At the time, public security minister Gilad Erdan, who proposed the law, said: “Security prisoners would like to see hunger strikes become a new sort of suicide bombing to threaten the state of Israel. We won’t allow anyone to threaten us and we won’t allow prisoners to die in our prisons.”

In addition to al-Qiq, there are four more Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.




The refusal of Israel to allow physical contact between the dying Palestinian and his family has nothing to do with principle or policy. It is just another example of Israel's deep-hearted commitment to treat the Palestinian "cockroaches" with simple and utter meaness.

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.