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Arab Israelis rally for release of Palestinian hunger striker

Hundreds, including radical cleric Raed Salah, protest at Afula hospital treating Mohammed al-Qiq, on hunger strike for 80 days

Radical Islamic Movement cleric Sheikh Raed Salah (front-L) joins Arab Israelis in a prayer in support for the release of Mohammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, outside the Afula hospital where he is being treated, February 12, 2016. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)
Radical Islamic Movement cleric Sheikh Raed Salah (front-L) joins Arab Israelis in a prayer in support for the release of Mohammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, outside the Afula hospital where he is being treated, February 12, 2016. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)

Hundreds of Arab Israelis demonstrated on Friday in support of a Palestinian journalist who has been on hunger strike for 80 days, demanding an end to his detention without trial by Israel.

An AFP journalist in the northern town of Afula said that radical Islamist cleric Raed Salah delivered a sermon to hundreds of worshipers at the end of Friday prayers held outside the hospital where Mohammed al-Qiq is being held under guard.

“Pray for the victory of the prisoner who is being held hostage, oppressed and detained without reason,” said Salah, who is himself awaiting the outcome of an appeal against an 11-month jail sentence for inciting violence against the Jewish state.

Qiq, 33, a correspondent for Saudi Arabia’s Almajd TV network, was arrested on November 21 at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah and placed under administrative detention, a procedure allowing indefinite imprisonment without trial. Israel claims that Qiq has is a member of the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Mohammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, talks to a man in a hospital in the northern Israeli town of Afula on February 5, 2016. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Mohammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, talks to a man in a hospital in the northern Israeli town of Afula on February 5, 2016. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

He has been refusing food since November 25 in protest against the “torture and ill treatment that he was subjected to during interrogation,” according to Addameer, a Palestinian rights organization.

On February 4, the Supreme Court lifted the administrative detention order, but ruled that he may not leave hospital. Qiq responded that he would continue his fast until he is freed.

His lawyers and the Afula hospital say his medical condition means that his life is in grave danger.

Salah, whose Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement was outlawed by Israel in November, said on Friday he had spoken to Qiq who said he wanted to be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah.

Arab Israelis take part in a protest calling for the release of Mohammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, outside a hospital in the northern town of Afula on February 9, 2016. (AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)
Arab Israelis take part in a protest calling for the release of Mohammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, outside a hospital in the northern town of Afula on February 9, 2016. (AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)

Israel Police said that Friday’s protest had been authorized despite the Islamic Movement ban because the request for a permit was not made in its name.

The demonstration passed off without incident, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

In Qiq’s hometown of Hebron, in the southern West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians also demonstrated on his behalf.

The Shin Bet security service says Qiq was arrested for “terror activity” as part of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

He was jailed for a month in 2003 and then for 13 months in 2004 for Hamas-related activities.

In 2008, Qiq was sentenced to 16 months on charges linked to his activities on the student council at the West Bank’s Birzeit University.

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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