A rights group says Palestinian detainee Mohammed al-Qiq has now entered uncharted medical territory after 89 days of refusing food in Israeli custody, the longest such hunger strikes in decades.
Amani Dayif, a doctor at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), said 33-year-old Qiq is in “unknown territory” medically because of the length of his fast , and that his condition is rapidly deteriorating.
“All medical literature depends on experiences from the past, and in all the experiences, there is no case of any hunger striker who has taken the Irish model, only drinking water, for this long,” she said.
The PHR-I further noted that Qiq has been on a hunger strike longer than two Palestinian detainees, which fasted for 66 and 67 days.
His protest fast also surpasses the ones by Irish Republican Army prisoners held by Britain in Northern Ireland during the 1981 protest strikes.
Ten of the Irish hunger strikers lost their lives because of extended fasts, and the longest strike lasted for only 73 days.
Meanwhile, Qiq’s wife, Fayha Shalash, says her husband has received two dietary supplements against his wishes for a total of five days while unconscious. She added that the hunger-striking journalist rejected all supplements when he regained consciousness.
Shalash added that she supports her husband’s campaign to avoid the possibility of repeated open-ended detentions. “It is true, his life is at risk, but what is the alternative?” she said.
Qiq has been on hunger strike since November 25, 2015, to protest his administrative detention, a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.
The father of two, who used to work for Saudi Arabia’s al-Majd TV network, has been accused by Israel’s Shin Bet internal spy service of “terror activity” involving the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.
The Palestinian journalist denied the charges and began the hunger strike after facing torture during interrogation.
Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Israel dismissed Qiq’s appeal to be transferred to a hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, ruling that he must remain in the Israeli hospital, where he is currently being held.
The United Nations has expressed concern about his fate. The International Committee of the Red Cross has also described his condition as critical.