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Israeli forces raid hospital where hunger-striker al-Qiq is detained

Feb. 20, 2016 10:34 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 25, 2016 4:20 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli special forces accompanied by police dogs raided the Afula hospital where Palestinian hunger-striker Muhammad al-Qiq is currently being detained on Saturday, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer for the PA Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said the sudden raid came after al-Qiq suffered from spasms and seizures several hours earlier, causing panic among doctors who rushed to al-Qiq's room and evacuated it.

The purpose of the raid remained unclear on Saturday evening, but al-Khatib said the raid sent out the message that Israeli authorities were aware that "Muhammad could die at any moment."

Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian Prisoners Society leader Qadura Fares told Ma’an that Palestinian officials were involved in talks to reach a compromise with Israeli authorities regarding al-Qiq that would be accepted by the Palestinian journalist and his family by Sunday.

The raid comes a day after the Committee of Prisoners' Affairs said Israeli intelligence services had refused to allow al-Qiq’s family to visit him during his hunger strike, in contradiction with an earlier ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court.

Al-Qiq, a 33-year-old father of two, went on hunger strike in late November to protest his administrative detention -- internment without trial or charge. He has since gone without food for 88 days, and has been in critical condition for weeks.

Israel has negotiated in cases of hunger strikes launched by Palestinian prisoners in the past out of fear that prisoners’ death could spark unrest in the occupied Palestinian territory, but the territory has already seen months of unrest.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Society head Qadura Fares said earlier this month that the Israeli security establishment now believes it has "nothing to lose" by failing to release al-Qiq before his death.

Al-Qiq has vowed to maintain his strike until transferred a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah and released from Israeli custody, requests that were most recently denied by Israel's High Court of Justice earlier this week.
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