Palestinian political prisoner Mohammed al-Qeq ends hunger strike as Israel pledges May release

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Palestinians protest in support of jailed journalist Mohammed al-Qeq

Thirty three-year-old Mohammed al-Qeq, a Palestinian journalist who has being held for more than six months in administrative detention without charge or trial in an Israeli prison, ended a 94 day hunger strike on February 26.

Al-Qeq ended the strike — the longest by any Palestinian prisoner — after Israel agreed not to renew his administrative detention order, which ends on May 21, AFP said that day.

Al-Qeq is “one of nearly 600 prisoners being held under administrative detention, which lets Israel incarcerate people without charge or trial,” Democracy Now! said. Under administrative detention, Palestinians are held by Israeli authorities on the basis of “secret evidence”. Prisoners can be held for up to six month and administrative detention orders can be renewed indefinitely.

Al-Qeq, a journalist from the occupied West Bank village of Dura, was arrested by Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet in November. He launched his hunger strike in protest at being jailed without due legal process, a Palestinian official said.

Israel accuses al-Qeq of having links to Palestinian resistance group Hamas. According to Palestinian sources, Israeli forces tortured al-Qeq during his interrogation. The journalist was subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, and other forms of abuse.

RT.com reported on January 14 that Al-Qeq's wife, Faiha'a Shalash, said that when he was arrested, Israeli authorities alleged media incitement to violence as justification. “We knew that he was subject to all kinds of threat and torture methods, like being beaten on a small chair when he was handcuffed and blindfolded for long hours,” Shalash said.

“They insulted and shouted at him in a humiliating manner and he was but in a very small prison that is not suitable to a human being. He also was threatened with sexual assault and internment for seven years if he doesn't admit his accusation of incitement to violence.”

RT.com reported that Shalash, who is also a journalist, said the accusation of incitement to violence does not fit with reality. Rather, she says Israel detained her husband because he described the Israelis as an occupying force committing crimes against humanity in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) called on the international community to press on the Israeli authorities to support al-Qeq. “MADA urges all international human rights and freedom of expression organizations to put pressure on the Israeli occupation government to release al-Qeq to save his life, which is under imminent threat due to his hunger strike,” it said in a statement.

Al Jazeera reported on January 12 that Ramy Abdu, director of the Gaza chapter of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, said Israel uses administrative detention to “shut up” influential members of society “who speak out loudly against the Israeli occupation”.

“Israeli forces target academics, professionals, journalists, student activists and other influential leaders in the community by using administrative detention.”

Prisoners' rights group Addameer there are about 6800 Palestinians being held in prison in Israel, of which 470 are children.

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