Fayhaa Shalash, the wife of incarcerated Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, hailed her husband’s decision to begin a new hunger strike to protest his latest detention by Israel, less than a year after he completed a three-month hunger strike that brought him near death.
Shalash told Voice of Prisoners radio station (Sawt al-Asraa) on Tuesday that the open hunger strike begun by 35-year-old al-Qiq on Monday was a “battle for dignity,” after he was sentenced to six months of administrative detention — Israel’s contested policy of internment without trial or charges based on undisclosed evidence.
Al-Qiq, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from prison in May last year after he refused food for a grueling 94 days — also in protest of his administrative detention at the time.
However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January after he participated in a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem demanding the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody.
Shalash added that al-Qiq has seen his detention extended four times since he was detained on Jan. 15, before receiving the six-month administrative detention sentence.
She described the sentence as a “failure” by Israeli authorities, saying it was proof they had no evidence on which to base an indictment.
According to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun, Israeli authorities had not garnered confessions or issued any charges against al-Qiq as of late January, although they had earlier expressed that they were investigating him for alleged “incitement” on social media, amid a crackdown on freedom of expression among Palestinian activists and journalists.
Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
Rights groups have claimed that Israel’s administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
Al-Qiq’s previous imprisonment by Israel — widely condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other rights groups — and subsequent hunger strike cast a spotlight on Israel’s use of administrative detention, its arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians, and the concerted targeting of Palestinian journalists.
Al-Qiq was one of a number of prominent Palestinian hunger strikers in 2016, who included the Balboul brothers who went without food for 77 and 79 days, Malik al-Qadi for 68 days, and Bilal Kayid for 71 days.