On November 21, 2015, Israeli soldiers entered the West Bank city of Ramallah, blew open the front door of the home of 33-year-old journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, and blindfolded and arrested him. Since then he’s been detained without charge or trial, denied even the right to know what crime he’s allegedly committed.
Al-Qeeq is a TV reporter for the Saudi news channel “Almajd.” He told his lawyer that Israeli officials who interrogated him accused him of “incitement” in the media. But because Israel is holding him under its administrative detention law, all evidence against him is secret.
To protest his arbitrary detention at Kishon (also known as Jalame) prison near the Israeli city of Haifa, al-Qeeq went on a hunger strike four days after his arrest. His wife, Fayha Shalash, who watched as soldiers took him from their home, says her husband, now in his 71st day of a hunger strike, is growing weaker and she now fears for his life. She says he is being held for doing his job as a journalist.
The Israeli authorities have a different view of the case. According to court documents, in a closed door hearing from which al-Qeeq’s lawyer was barred, the Israel Security Agency or Shin Bet told Israel’s Supreme Court that it suspected al-Qeeq of “current military activity” in what it considers to be a terrorist group, and of having a “security connection with activists from the Gaza Strip.” Yet, with the evidence against him secret, al-Qeeq cannot defend himself against these allegations.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the law of occupation, which applies to Israel as the occupying power in the West Bank, permits the use of administrative detention only “for imperative reasons of security.” Those so held still must be informed of the reason for their arrest, be promptly charged if they’ve committed a crime, and be able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. The Israeli human rights group B’tselem says that at the end of November 2015, Israel was holding 527 Palestinians in detention of this sort.
At a hearing on January 27, the Supreme Court rejected a petition to release al-Qeeq but requested daily updates on his medical condition.
Meanwhile, the hospital treating al-Qeeq warned last week that his condition is deteriorating and that he is drowsy, very weak, and unable to speak.
“Al-Qeeq has one foot and one hand shackled to his bed,” said his lawyer. “The last time I met him, he gave me his will in case he dies.”