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Israel frees Palestinian journalist after 93-day hunger strike

Mohammed al-Qiq started fasting soon after Israeli authorities said they detained him for 'terror activity,' a charge he has denied
Mohammed al-Qiq hugs his son as he arrives in his village on Thursday (AFP)

A Palestinian journalist who was held by Israeli authorities without trial and went on hunger strike for more than three months has been freed.

After his release from prison in southern Israel's Negev desert, Mohammed al-Qiq arrived with his family at his home village of Dura, near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, where he was met by well wishers.

"This victory proves that the occupation is fragile and its security equation is an imaginary one," he told journalists in Arabic.

"This victory today adds to the many victories of the Palestinian people that will go on, God willing, with greater resilience and consistency."

Qiq was arrested on 21 November by Israeli authorities who said he was detained for "terror activity" on behalf of Hamas, a charge he denied. He began his hunger strike a few days later. 

In February, he announced that he would end the strike after authorities said they would not extend his detention under the administrative detention system, which allows Israel to hold prisoners without trial for renewable six-month periods.

"It’s a big achievement not just for our family, but for all of the Palestinian people," Fayhaa Shalash, al-Qiq's wife, said when authorities announced their decision.

The 34-year-old, who works for Saudi television channel al-Majd, had fasted for at least 93 days in protest at his "torture and ill treatment that he was subjected to during interrogation," according to Addameer, a Palestinian rights organisation.

He occasionally took minerals and vitamins, but mainly ingested only tap water. Family members said at one point during his strike, Qiq lost the ability to talk and was slipping in and out of consciousness.

His case was widely covered, and the UN expressed concern about his condition.