On Thursday, February 4, the 72nd day to the hunger strike of Palestinian journalist Mohammed Al-Qiq against his administrative detention, Herak Haifa organized a demonstration for his release. About two hours before the demonstration, we heard in the news that the Israeli court of injustice decided to “suspend” the administrative detention
of Al-Qiq because of his deteriorating health. Immediately phone calls started arriving: “Will the demonstration be canceled?” No, we answered. We couldn’t consult Muhammad or anyone acting on his behalf. But the hunger strike is for the cancellation of administrative detention, not its “suspension.” We remembered the case of Muhammad Allan, whose administrative detention was “suspended” after more than 60 days of hunger strike, but after his health improved it was reactivated again.
The only positive outcome of the suspension is that Muhammad is not chained to the bed and one can visit him. Well, not everyone. His family is still imprisoned behind the fences closing on the “Palestinian autonomy” enclaves in the West Bank and didn’t get permission to visit him, in spite of what was allegedly said in the court. Many political activists and people of conscience among Palestinians inside the Green Line took the opportunity to visit the Mohammed Al-Qiq since Thursday. When I entered his hospital room today (Saturday, 6.2) I found him too weak to speak. By gestures and grimace he thanked his visitors and asserted his resolve.
During these visits Al-Qiq was photographed with the written message: “I continuing the strike”!
The danger is that the “suspension” of administrative detention would undermine the struggle to free Al-Qiq, thus instantly increasing the danger to his life. Even “Sikha Mekomit” (“Local Conversation”), the left pole of the Israeli political discourse, had the title “The High Court suspended the administrative detention of journalist hunger striker due to his medical condition”. Only the subtitle mentions that the strike continues “until his detention is canceled completely”. The title should have been that Israel’s court refused to cancel Al-Qiq’s administrative detention and continues to give the false appearance of legality to the occupation’s policy of detention without indictment and without any option for legal protection.
Silence, habitualization and the “cultural” appearances around the crimes of the
occupation are now killing Mohammed Al-Qiq. When Samer Issawi held hunger strike against his administrative detention in 2013, his moving letters from prison shocked the world public opinion and even touched some of the Israeli public. Some “Israeli intellectuals” saw fit to write him and ask him to stop his strike. In the last days of the hunger strike of Muhammad Allan, in August 2015, all eyes were concentrated around the hospital in Ashkelon, where the military record of the director of the hospital increased suspicions about the intention to force-feed Allan. When fascist gangs in Ashkelon attacked Allan’s sympathizers, and eventually Ashkelon’s police decided to block the entrances to the city to prevent the arrival of the sympathizers, and clashes ensued, it all caused drama that raised the pressure for Allan’s release.
Since last October Palestinian are killed every day in the “Individuals’ Intifada”. The value of Palestinian blood and Human Rights became even more dirt cheap in the eyes of Israeli and the world’s public opinion. It is becoming ever harder to mobilize public opinion against the occupation’s crimes.
The Israeli government is openly stepping on all principles of justice and human rights, on the assumption that this will lead eventually the Palestinians to despair. If this despair will cause more bloodshed they see it as a bonus, because Israeli violence is always more effective and deadly, and it promotes the aim to destroy or expel the Palestinians from their land in order to complete its robbery. For this reason they arrested the prisoners that were released in an exchange of prisoners in 2011. Thus, after the collective hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners in 2012 terminated with promises to reduce the use of administrative detention, the occupation authorities have since doubled the number of administrative detentions.
Many “innocently” ask why Palestinians are not taking nonviolent struggle. As if the violence is the result of the Palestinians’ choice. As if the Palestinians were given a choice. Well, hunger strike is the highest form of non-violent struggle. But even against it the Israeli government’s response is escalating violence: forced feeding. Or, if doctors refuse to feed the hunger striker by force, the Israeli government and its courts are offering another solution: die quietly.
Muhammad Al-Qiq is a journalist and his administrative detention is an attack on the
freedom of speech and the public’s right, the right of all of us, to hear the truth about the crimes of the occupation.
Administrative detention is the easiest case to all supporters of the rule of law and human rights to take a clear position. This is detention without charge, without trial or legal proceeding that might give the victim a chance to refute the allegations against him.
The struggle against administrative detention is led in recent years by “intifada of individuals” in the form of prolonged hunger strikes. Fearless brave people who put their lives in danger in their demand for freedom and justice: Khader Adnan, Hana Shalabi, Samer Issawi, Muhammad Allan, Muhammad Al-Qiq.
We must not let Muhammad Al-Qiq die – Raise your voices for the sake of eliminating administrative detention and for his immediate release!
(This article is also available in Hebrew).