Ailing Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq will keep up his 75-day hunger strike, rejecting an Israeli offer to release him by May 1, the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said Sunday.
According to local media reports, the offer was conveyed by unidentified Israeli authorities to Arab Knesset member Osama Sa’adi (Joint List) and a lawyer from the Palestinian commission, in a phone call Saturday evening.
The offer however, was rejected by Qiq, who demanded instead to be released immediately and have a complete end to his administrative detention.
“Qiq’s position is clear, and he will reject any offer that does not immediately end his administrative detention. He is also determined to receive medical attention in Palestinian hospitals,” the commission’s lawyer told the Ma’an news agency.
Qiq is reportedly close to death and has already suffered permanent damage due to the lengthy hunger strike.
On Thursday, Israel’s Supreme Court lifted the order to hold him under the controversial administrative detention law, which allows the state to hold suspects without trial indefinitely.
The 33-year-old television reporter however, still cannot leave the hospital without permission, and is “determined to continue his fast until he is freed,” his lawyer, Jawad Boulos told AFP. He remains handcuffed to his bed in HaEmek Medical Center in Afula.
His relatives can now visit him, but his wife Fayha Shalach told a press conference late Thursday she would not do so until he was fully free.
“Security forces have simply shifted the responsibility for the fate of my husband on to the hospital administration,” she said.
Palestinians held under administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold suspects virtually indefinitely without charge, have in the past used hunger strikes to protest their condition and rally the Palestinian street around their cause, at times winning freedom.
A senior Hamas official abroad told The Times of Israel that although Qiq is not a member of the group, “if anything happens to him, or he dies, it will lead to an escalation [of violence] that nobody wants.”
In late January, the Hamas Higher Body for Prisoners threatened their men in Israeli jails would kill a prison officer in the case of Qiq being “martyred,” Palestinian media reported.
A father of two and a correspondent for Saudi Arabia’s Almajd TV network, Qiq was arrested on November 21 at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, says Qiq was arrested for “terror activity” as part of the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Qiq was jailed for a month in 2003 and then for 13 months in 2004 for Hamas-related activities.
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.
AFP and Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.