Palestinian ends hunger strike as Israel agrees his release

Palestinian ends hunger strike as Israel agrees his release
Palestinian ends hunger strike as Israel agrees his release

Jerusalem (AFP) - An imprisoned Palestinian journalist ended a 32-day hunger strike on Friday after receiving assurances Israel would not extend his detention without trial next month, his wife and lawyer said.

It will be the second time within a year that 34-year-old Mohammed al-Qiq, who works for the Saudi television channel Al-Majd, has been released by Israel from so-called administrative detention following a prolonged hunger strike.

An Israeli military court said Thursday that Qiq's detention would not be extended when it expired next month, his lawyer Khaled Zabarqa told AFP.

Qiq's wife, Fayha Shalash, said that the journalist, hospitalised near Tel Aviv, has ended his hunger strike and called his release expected on April 14 a "judicial victory".

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner stressed to AFP that "there was no agreement" under which Qiq would stop his hunger strike in return for his release.

"He'll be released as planned," Lerner said of Qiq's three-month sentence.

The Israel Prison Service confirmed to AFP that Qiq had stopped refusing food and would be released next month.

In May 2016, Qiq was released from a six-month prison term without trial following a 94-day hunger strike.

He was rearrested in January near the West Bank city of Ramallah for "terror activity" on behalf of the Islamist group Hamas, the Shin Bet domestic security service said at the time, a claim he denied.

He was also accused of undermining the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

A military court in February ordered that he be imprisoned for six months, a sentence later reduced to three months.

The controversial Israeli administrative detention laws allow the state to hold suspects without trial for periods of six months, renewable indefinitely.