Mohammad Al-Qeeq: Freedom or Martyrdom

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
At the time Palestinian journalist, Mohammad Al-Qeeq, is dying before our eyes, Israel shows us that not only is it unable to follow basic human dignity and medical ethics guidelines but it’s also concealing facts in its dark dungeons. There are currently 6,900 Palestinians in Israel’s prisons, where they are exposed to systematic ill-treatment, beatings and torture. 650 are imprisoned without charge, without trial and without release date. 450 of them are children, including the youngest Palestinian prisoner,12 years old Dema Al-Wawi who was arrested on February 9, 2016, interrogated without the presence of her parents or lawyer.
الطفلة ديما
Mohammad Al-Qeeq is a 33 year old married man and a father to two young children who works as a TV reporter for the Saudi news channel “Almajd.”  According to his wife, Fyaha Shalash, her husband was kidnapped during a midnight raid to their home in Ramallah by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on November 21, 2015.  He was blindfolded and taken to an interrogation center and was not allowed to make contact with his family or lawyer for 20 days.
Four days later he went on an open ended hunger strike to protest to protest his administrative detention — an Israeli policy that allows Palestinians to be held without charge or trial indefinitely.
As I write this today, Mohammad is on his 91st day of his hunger strike and he is facing a severe medical crisis. Former Palestinian prisoner, Mohammed Kana’aneh, stated recently that Al-Qeeq was experiencing severe respiratory and, severe chest pains and difficulty breathing. Both Israeli and Palestinian doctors said Al-Qeeq is near death. He has requested to see his wife and children on Friday the19th of February.
As stated now, Israel said, his administrative detention has been suspended but not lifted and denied a petition to move him into a Palestinian hospital, claiming he would be a risk to the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) should they try to rearrest him once he get better. Meanwhile his wife, children and brothers are denied the right to visit him under the false pretense they are security risk to the state of Israel.
Israel claims to be holding Mohammad Al-Qeeq based on secret evidence. Al-Qeeq and his family insisted he was kidnapped to silence his right to free speech and from practicing his profession as a journalist. Neither Mohammad nor his lawyer have access to the charges against him, which are kept in classified files by Israeli forces.  Now Israeli is using this dirty and ugly tactic of secret evidence against Palestinians which was once used by the Nazis against Jews.
Mohammad’s wife, Fayha Shalash  has taken the leading role in the campaign to free her husband by using social media to communicate with Palestinians, Israelis and the rest of the world. Fayha uses video messages very effectively to convey her messages and has since generated an international attention and support to the plight of her husband. She told supporters gathered in Lebanon that her husband promised to continue with his hunger strike until he either gets his freedom or martyrdom and she will have no plans of accepting condolences or hold a memorial service should her husband die in captivity.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords between Palestinians and Israelis, the Palestinian Authority assumed civilian and security responsibility to the city of Ramallah, which was designated as “Area A” under the agreement. Ramalla is  located 6 miles north of Jerusalem and Israel has no jurisdiction over the city, thus makes the arrest of Mohammad Al-Qeeq as an illegal act by Israel and a violation of the Oslo agreement that Israel signed. This is no different than the Mexican army crossing the border into the city of El Paso, Texas and arrest a United State citizen. Can you imagine the outrage?
                            Demonstrators  in front  of the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels on 17 February, demanding that the EU takes action on the case of Mohammad Al-Qeeq,
Even though this case has received attention worldwide and protesters took the street in  Berlin, Paris, London, Belfast, Melan, New York, Brussels, Luxemburg, Lebanon and Israel. Now Amnesty International has called upon Israel to urgently facilitate the transfer of Mohammad Al-Qeek to Ramalla hospital, the Palestinian Authority has until now shamelessly remained tight lipped.
However, when PA president Mahmoud Abbas and his deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash were called upon by Israel to intercede in behalf of Israeli spy held in Cuba on espionage charges since 2009, both of them rushed into action. As a result, Alan Gross, a 64 years old Jewish American spy who was serving 15 years sentence was released. Below is one of several leaked letters to the press by the office of Al-Habbash, which show how these  officials bend backward to accommodate Israel and US citizens. The name Gearshon Baskin is an Israeli researcher and close associate of PM Netanyahu.
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Last but not least, Mohammad Al-Qeeq is not asking his jailer or the Israeli occupation for mercy, leniency or asylum, he is asking for his rights to be respected and protected. As he previously said, he wants to live with honor rather than live with humiliation and he is willing to use his body and life as his only defense until freedom or martyrdom. Just like ” give me liberty or give me death ” were the words from speech by Patrick Henry to urge American colonies to revolt against England.

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