Two Palestinian prisoners continue hunger strikes for freedom

Two Palestinian prisoners are continuing their hunger strikes to demand their freedom from administrative detention, Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial. Mohammed al-Qeeq, 34, a Palestinian journalist, is on his 27th day of hunger strike, while Jamal Abu Leil, 50, a Fateh leader from Qalandiya refugee camp, has been on hunger strike against his own imprisonment without charge or trial for 17 days.

A large rally in solidarity with Abu Leil and his fellow Palestinian prisoners started today from Qalandiya camp and marching to Ramallah. marchers returned to the camp and Qalandiya checkpoint, where Israeli occupation forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets at the marching youth.

Abu Leil’s wife confirmed on Saturday, 4 March that her husband is dedicated to continue his battle until he wins his freedom from administrative detention. Abu Leil is held in isolation in Ashkelon prison, while al-Qeeq is held in the Ramle prison clinic.

Journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq won his release from administrative detention in 2016 with a 94-day hunger strike that drew wide attention internationally and across Palestine. His release in May 2016 was widely celebrated; he was seized again by Israeli occupation forces at a checkpoint on 15 January 2017 after leaving a protest in Bethlehem for the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. He launched his hunger strike on 6 February after he was ordered to administrative detention following 22 days of interrogation.

Abu Leil is a former member of the Fateh Revolutionary Council and a longtime leader of the political party in the refugee camp. He has been imprisoned since February 2016 and held under administrative detention without charge or trial. He launched his hunger strike on 16 February after his imprisonment was renewed for the third time for another six-month order. He is held in solitary confinement with nothing but the clothes on his back, and all appliances, extra clothes and covers have been removed from his isolated space.

Archbishop Atallah Hanna spoke in support of al-Qeeq and Abu Leil on Wednesday, 1 March at a sit-in in support of the hunger strikers in the courtyard of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, saying that “We stand in solidarity with our brothers, the prisoners on hunger strike, and reaffirm our support and our stand alongside the prisoners who are defending freedom and the just cause of their people,” urging broader Arab action for Palestine.

Amnesty International issued a statement urging the release of al-Qeeq, as his health continued to deteriorate. Al-Qeeq’s situation is particularly precarious considering his weakness following last year’s 94-day hunger strike. His detention order was confirmed on 28 February. “Today’s decision to approve the administrative detention of Muhammed al-Qiq is an affront to justice. Israel’s administrative detention which is predominately used to detain Palestinians without charge or trial is arbitrary and abusive. The Israeli authorities must end this practice, which itself can amount to cruel and inhuman treatment, once and for all,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

Al-Qeeq’s lawyer Khaled Zabarqa said on Friday, 3 March that he lost consciousness on Wednesday for about one hour on Wednesday and suffers from a constant and extreme headache and dizziness. Al-Qeeq refuses all medical tests by the Israeli occupation, and Zabarqa also reported that prison officials are demanding he receive a series of medical tests before being transferred to a civilian hospital.

Take Action!

1. Sign and share the public petition to international officials to demand they take a stand on administrative detention and Mohammed al-Qeeq’s imprisonment. Sign and share at:

2. Organize a protest or a forum for Mohammed al-Qeeq and Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Apartheid Week is approaching and the Israeli injustice system is an excellent example to highlight in IAW activities, especially as your support can help to bring the international attention needed to help Mohammed al-Qeeq in his struggle for freedom. You can invite a speaker, hold a discussion, hold a protest, or just distribute leaflets and information (see below for sample leaflets and posters). To request resources or let us know about your event so we can post it publicly, email or contact us on Facebook.

3. Hold a Symbolic Hunger Strike. This is an especially effective tactic on a campus for Israeli Apartheid Week, but can be used anywhere. A symbolic one-day hunger strike in which participants publicly express their solidarity with al-Qeeq and fellow Palestinian prisoners can help to raise local attention. Email to let us know about your event!

Flyers and Literature

Mohammed al-Qeeq Leaflet – Download PDF
Mohammed al-Qeeq sign/poster (A3/11×17) – Download PDF
Apartheid in Israeli Prisons – Half-Page Leaflet – Download PDF