Palestinian hunger striker to stay in Israeli hospital

Mohammed al-Qiq is reported to be close to death 84 days after starting a hunger strike in protest against his internment detention

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Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday said a Palestinian hunger striker must stay in the northern Israeli hospital where he is being held, after a failed attempt to break a stalemate.

"The court refused the request of Mohammed al-Qiq and will leave him in the hospital in Afula," his lawyer Jawad Boulos said in a statement.

The 33-year-old journalist is reported to be close to death 84 days after starting a hunger strike in protest against his internment detention without trial under Israel's administrative detention laws.

He has occasionally taken minerals and vitamins but mainly ingests only tap water, doctors who have visited him say.

The court officially suspended the internment order against Qiq on February 4, but refused his demand for transfer to a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah, under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction.

On Monday it offered a compromise whereby he would be moved to the Palestinian-run Makassed hospital in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Afou Agbaria, an Arab Israeli former parliamentarian and physician who visited Qiq in Afula, said he turned down the proposal.

"He refuses to be cared for in Makassed because it is located under Israeli sovereignty and he says he will not be retained in custody," he told AFP.

"He said, 'It's death or freedom, and if Israeli security has something against me, it must bring me to justice, rather than to hold me under administrative detention without trial or charge'."

Qiq, a father of two and a correspondent for Saudi Arabia's Almajd TV network, was arrested at his home in Ramallah on November 21.

He has been refusing food since November 25 in protest against the "torture and ill treatment that he was subjected to during interrogation", according to Addameer, a Palestinian rights organisation.

The United Nations has expressed concern about his fate, with the International Committee of the Red Cross describing his condition as critical.

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service says Qiq was detained for "terror activity" on behalf of the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Israel's controversial administrative detention law allows the state to hold suspects without trial for periods of six months renewable indefinitely.