Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq on hunger strike demanding release

Palestinian journalist and former long-term hunger striker Mohammed al-Qeeq has declared an open hunger strike following his re-arrest by Israeli occupation forces on the evening of 15 January at Beit El checkpoint north of Ramallah. He began his strike immediately upon his arrest.

Fayha Shalash, al-Qeeq’s wife and a fellow journalist, emphasized that he began his open hunger strike from the moment of his arrest. Al-Qeeq, 35, earlier engaged in a 94-day hunger strike against his administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial with widespread Palestinian and international support, winning his release in May 2016. Since his release, al-Qeeq has been active in prisoner support efforts and was arrested returning from a demonstration in Bethlehem for the release of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces.

Shalash and al-Qeeq have two children, Islam and Lour. A rally took place on Monday, 16 January at Ramallah’s Manara Square demanding al-Qeeq’s immediate release; the journalist has reportedly been transferred to Ofer prison.

Al-Qeeq is among over 20 Palestinian journalists held in Israeli prison. Among these imprisoned journalists is Omar Nazzal, member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, held without charge or trial under administrative detention. Nazzal was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 23 April 2016 as he attempted to cross the Karameh/Allenby crossing to Jordan to travel to Sarajevo for a conference of the European Feeration of Journalists. His administrative detention has been renewed three times.

Also held under administrative detention is Adib Al-Atrash, imprisoned since 20 June 2016. He was arrested by Israeli occupation forces only a few days after he returned from studying abroad at Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, where he had just received his masters degree in media studies.  His administrative detention without charge or trial has been renewed twice.

Just yesterday, Palestinian writer Walid Hodali was seized by Israeli occupation forces amid a large number of arrests in the Ramallah area. He previously spent 15 years in Israeli prison and is currently the director of the Jerusalem Literary Office and a member of the Palestinian Writers Union.

Al-Qeeq is demanding his immediate release from re-arrest and is pledging to continue his hunger strike until he is freed.