Journalist Muhammad al-Qiq begins new hunger strike

Muhammad al-Qiq after his release from Israeli prison in May 2016.

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

The Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq has begun a new hunger strike in protest of how Israel has once again detained him without charge or trial.

On 15 January, al-Qiq was arrested at a military checkpoint near Ramallah, a city in the occupied West Bank. He was returning from a protest in Bethlehem at the time.

Since then, he has been under interrogation while his detention was repeatedly extended.

He announced his hunger strike after an administrative order was issued against him.

Orders for administrative detention – under which Israel locks up Palestinians without charge or trial – can be indefinitely renewed.

It has been less than a year since al-Qiq refused meals for more than 90 days, also protesting how he was subject to administrative detention.

Al-Qiq ended his hunger strike after Israel agreed not to renew the administrative detention order then issued against him. He was released in May 2016.

No evidence

Fayha Shalash, al-Qiq’s wife, has said that the latest administrative detention order was proof of Israel’s “failure” to find any evidence on which it could indict her husband.

At the time of his arrest last month, a spokesperson for the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic spy agency, told The Jerusalem Post that al-Qiq was arrested “on the basis of suspicions of involvement in incitement to terrorism against Israel and renewed activity with Hamas.”

But the Israeli authorities have yet to present any evidence to support those accusations. That is despite how Israel has expanded its definition of “incitement” over the last two years.

As a result, numerous Palestinians – including some journalists– have been charged with the offense, based on comments they have made or content they have viewed on the Internet.

In late January, al-Qiq was placed in solitary confinement at the Hadarim prison in Israel.

Violent raids

His hunger strike coincides with the publication of a new report documenting a surge in violent raids conducted by the Israel Prison Service against Palestinian prisoners.

Jointly issued by a number of Palestinian human rights groups, the report states that dozens of aggressive nighttime raids were conducted against Palestinians held in Israeli jails at the end of January and the beginning of February.

Some of the raids occurred after two wardens at separate prisons were, according to Israeli media, stabbed with a screwdriver, suffering light injuries.

Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority head of prisoner affairs, reported that prisoners were forced to fully undress and stand naked outside, in the cold weather, while guards ransacked their belongings.

Other raids by officers at Nafha prison were, however, before the stabbing incident there occurred. Some prisoners were reportedly assaulted during those raids.

In another case of collective punishment, the Israeli prison authorities also reportedly placed 15 men in solitary confinement after the stabbing incident at Nafha.

Approximately 530 Palestinians are now being held under administrative detention by Israel.

A total of 590 Palestinians – including 128 children and 14 women – were arrested by Israel in January alone.

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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.