Escalating calls for release of imprisoned journalist as Mohammed al-Qeeq enters 86th day of hunger strike


As Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq enters his 86th day of hunger strike, United Nations special coordinator for the “Middle East Peace Process,” Nikolay Mladenov, called for the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, in a press conference in Gaza.

“The UN has spoken very clearly against administrative detention not only in the state of Israel but everywhere around the world. We believe that this practice violates the international humanitarian law”, Mladenov said, reported the Palestinian Information Center.

German parliamentarian Annette Groth also co-signed a letter from lawyer Felicia Langer and Dr. Khaled Hamad, coordinator of the European Alliance in Defence of Palestinian detainees, calling for the release of al-Qeeq. In the letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, they called for her “to raise your voice and put pressure on Israel to ensure international law is applied and the Geneva Conventions are respected. That is why we appeal to you and all freedom-loving people, peace and human rights organizations, and the international community to call for the release of Mohammad Al-Qeeq and all Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention.”

Al-Qeeq’s health situation is growing more dire by the day, and he is in great danger of forced treatment. The HaEmek hospital waiting room in Afula has filled with visitors for al-Qeeq. 40 Palestinians are on hunger strike in solidarity with al-Qeeq in front of the hospital; five were arrested by Israeli forces, and Knesset member Haneen Zoabi was forced to leave the hospital.

Al-Qeeq has been denied visitors on the grounds of his extremely fragile medical condition; however, he was visited by Archbishop Atallah Hanna, who reported that al-Qeeq is in critical condition and suffering from severe pain. “The imprisoned al-Qeeq, is on hunger strike for the freedom that he deserves. He is entitled to return to his family and to his children who are impatiently waiting. We stand in solidarity with him and with all prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails,” said Hanna.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and Palestinian Bar Association called for actions to support al-Qeeq, and protests in support of his hunger strike and demanding his freedom filled the streets in Ramallah, Qalqilya, Jenin, al-Khalil, Tubas, Sakhnin, Umm al-Fahm, Nablus and many other Palestinian towns and cities. The Journalists Syndicate called on its members to suspend other work to focus on the case, calling for a day of media activity focused exclusively on al-Qeeq’s struggle for freedom.

Palestinian prisoners in Eshel prison, section 10, protested for al-Qeeq’s freedom, returning their meals for the day and banging on the doors of their cells.

At the same time, one of al-Qeeq’s lawyers, Ashraf Abu Sneineh, said that the Israeli Hebrew-language major media is conducting a campaign of incitement against al-Qeeq, labeling him a security risk, saying that the channel he works for, Al-Majd is actually a subsidiary to Hamas, and that he has contacts with Palestinian fighters; Abu Sneineh remarked that al-Qeeq is not charged with any of these things and is instead held in administrative detention without charge or trial.