Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq was suddenly transferred from HaEmek Hospital in Afula to a medical clinic in al-Ramla prison on Thursday, the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs said.
The committee said the reasons for al-Qiq’s transfer were not explained, pointing out that he is still undergoing medical treatment for recovery from a grueling 94-day hunger strike launched by the prisoner that ended Feb. 26 and brought him close to death.
Al-Qiq’s transfer to al-Ramla in central Israel came without any prior notice and he was not allowed to take his personal belongings, the committee added, without giving further information.
In February, al-Qiq demanded to be moved to a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, and the appeal was ultimately rejected by Israel’s Supreme Court.
Amnesty International responded to the decision in a statement that al-Qiq, on the verge of death, had the right to treatment by doctors of his choice as “an unconvicted detainee.”
The 33-year-old journalist initially went on hunger strike in late November to protest the torture and ill-treatment he said he faced in Israeli custody, but his protest quickly developed into another bid to challenge Israel’s use of administrative detention — internment without trial or charge.
After being in critical condition for weeks, with doctors and rights groups repeatedly warning that he has stood on the cusp of death, his lawyers struck an eleventh hour deal with the Israeli authorities, pushing the date of his release to May 21.
Numerous international bodies, including the UN and European Union, condemned Israel for its continued incarceration of al-Qiq, as well its use of administrative detention for nearly 700 other Palestinian prisoners.