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From the field

B'Tselem Executive Director in Letter to Prime Minister: Order the Immediate Release of Hunger Striker Muhammad al-Qiq

Update: According to media reports, Muhammad al-Qiq and the Israeli authorities reached an agreement whereby al-Qiq would now end his 93-day hunger strike, and then be released from administrative detention on 17 May 2016.

Muhammad al-Qiq. Photo: courtesy of the familyB'Tselem Executive Director Hagai Elad this morning sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requesting the immediate release of journalist Muhammad al-Qiq. Al-Qiq, 33, has been on hunger strike for 86 days protesting his administrative detention and is in a serious condition. In the letter, Elad criticizes the HCJ ruling that rejected al-Qiq’s request to be transferred to hospital in Ramallah with the justices arguing that if the security establishment sought to detain al-Qiq again in the future, this would endanger soldiers’ lives.

“This position reflects a new low in the instrumentalist approach to human beings. This sort of argument obviously cannot justify continuing to hold al-Qiq in Ha’Emek Hospital contrary to his express wishes. The fact that the Court accepted this argument says more about the justices than about the reasonableness of the claim. In any case, given the long history of HCJ justices serving as a rubber stamp for administrative detention orders and given the current use of the word ‘whims’ by Justice Elyakim Rubinstein to describe al-Qiq’s wishes, it is difficult to attribute any serious legal meaning to the ruling in his case.”

Elad ends the letter by urging the Prime Minister to order al-Qiq’s immediate release:

“Since al-Qiq’s liberty is currently being restricted by a non-existent authority, it is difficult to identify the body that bears direct responsibility for the continued deprivation of his liberty and endangerment of his life. Does this responsibility rest with the military commander who issued the original detention order, which has for the meantime been “suspended”? Does it rest with the Attorney General, who is responsible of the state’s proper legal conduct? Does it rest with the President of the Supreme Court, whose colleagues have concocted a new legal myth – a person who is not free, yet is not detained? Whatever the case may be, it is clear that in practical terms the head of the executive branch can, if he wishes, bring about the only possible moral outcome in the current state of affairs – namely, the immediate release of Muhammad al-Qiq. You bear responsibility for al-Qiq’s life. I urge you – I implore you - to order al-Qiq’s immediate release before it is too late.”