February 26, 2016 / 12:21 PM / in a year

Palestinian hunger striker held by Israel ends protest-family

A Palestinian youth walks past a poster depicting Palestinian journalist Mohammad al-Qiq, who was detained by Israeli forces in November and is on the 86th day of a hunger strike in a hospital in northern Israel, in the West Bank city of Ramallah February 19, 2016.Mohamad Torokman

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - A Palestinian journalist accused by Israel of being a Hamas activist and held without charge has agreed to end his three-month long hunger strike, his family and lawyers said on Friday.

Mohammad al-Qiq, who was detained by Israel in November, was being treated in a hospital in northern Israel when he ended his 94-day hunger strike.

Qiq's family and lawyers said he will remain in hospital to recover and will be freed at the end of his detention term on May 21 and it will not be renewed.

But the Israeli military said that after ending his protest, Qiq would remain in custody until May 21 when his status will be reviewed "to determine whether there is new information or security circumstances which require extending his detention."

Israel placed Qiq in what it calls "administrative detention", a practise that has roots in British mandate Palestine. It allows a prisoner to be held for up to 60 days without charge and without viewing evidence against him and can be extended with court approval.

The deal with Qiq appeared to be similar to that of previous cases where Israel agreed to release hunger strikers it has held without charge.

Last week, the United Nations, EU and rights groups expressed concern about Qiq, who refused any food or medical treatment, and denounced administrative detention.

Israel says detention without trial is essential in preventing further violence in cases where there is insufficient evidence to prosecute, or where going to court would risk exposing the identity of secret informants.

The Israeli Supreme Court said last week that Qiq was suspected of involvement in militant activity and contacts with Hamas operatives in Gaza.

"He is, in short, clearly a Hamas activist involved in militant terrorism," the court said after reviewing classified information.

Palestinian officials said the 33-year-old father of two, employed by Saudi-owned Al-Majd Television, was being hounded for political reasons. Israel has never produced specific charges against him.

Palestinian factions and officials hailed the deal reached on Friday as "a victory against Israel's administrative detention policy."

There are currently 600 Palestinians held in administrative detention, according to the Israeli Prison Service.

Earlier this month the Israeli Supreme court suspended Qiq's detention order saying that due to his medical condition he posed no imminent threat. But Qiq refused to end his hunger strike until the order was canceled.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta, and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Toby Chopra and Dominic Evans

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