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Israel Is Killing The Messenger Because It Doesn't Like The Message

06 March 2016

By Khalid Amayreh

The Israeli government continues to refuse to release Palestinian journalist Muhammed Elqeiq who has been observing an uninterrupted hunger strike for the 70th day running. His lawyer Jawad Paulus said Muhammed ''is literally hanging between life and death.''

''Muhammad's health conditions are critical. He has lost 50-60 pounds, and he has lost the ability to hear and speak.''

Elqeiq's brother, Hammam, accused the Israeli authority of ''slowly killing my brother.''

''After 70 days of hunger strike, the Israeli justice system is still awaiting a further deterioration in Muhammad's condition.

This means they want him to die or suffer an irreparable damage to his vital organs which would stay with him for the rest of his life.''

On Monday, Elqeiq's wife and family met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah, urging him to use whatever leverage the Palestinian Authority (PA) might have to save Muhammad's life.

Al-Hamdallah told them Israel was behaving with total callousness and vindictiveness and refusing to cooperate.

As a friend of the Elqeiq's family, this writer attended the meeting.

Earlier on the day, a press conference was held outside the offices of the Red Cross in Ramallah during which Fayhaa Elqeiq, wife of Muhammed Elqeiq, appealed to ''all conscientious and freedom-loving people to exert maximum pressure on the Israeli government to release her husband immediately.''

''Muhammed is a journalist, not a terrorist. He doesn't deserve to die for practicing his job. Muhammed harmed no one, didn't violate any laws, didn't throw a stone on Israeli soldiers or settlers. She said that Israeli charges and insinuations that Muhammed was indulging in incitement had ''no iota of truth.'' ''All that Muhammed did was reporting reality in Palestine to the outside world. And Israel is trying to kill him for doing this. That is the whole story'', she said.

Fayhaa, herself a journalist, appealed to colleagues around the world to identify with her husband. ''We pray that Muhammad will survive this ordeal. Muhammed doesn't want to die. He is evidently clinging to life. His triumph will be good news for journalists around the world, and his defeat, God forbid, would be a serious setback for press freedom and freedom of speech around the world.

''That is why we appeal to our colleagues around the world to press and pressure the Israeli government to release this innocent man immediately.

On Monday, the Israeli High Court decided to keep Muhammed Elqeiq in administrative detention pending a further deterioration of his health conditions.

The Israeli Attorney-General is adamantly refusing to submit any tangible evidence that would indict the detained Palestinian journalist.

''The administrative detention is a sword constantly drawn against Palestinians' throats, which allows the Israeli occupation authorities to incarcerate Palestinian activists without charge or trial up to 12 years. Elqeiq was working for the Saudi Satellite TV outlet, al-Majd, before he was arrested. Israel considers unfavorable reporting of events in the West Bank, such as home demolitions, human rights violations and other acts of repression an act of incitement.

''Israel classifies us Palestinians into either terrorists or informers. There is nothing in between. Thus, a journalist like Muhammed Elqeiq who is just doing his job is viewed as a terrorist,'' Hammam Elqeiq, Muhammad's brother, said. ''What can you do when the judge is your enemy.''

Khalid Amayreh is a veteran journalist and current affairs political commentator living in occupied Palestine 


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