Israel Cabinet Approves Bill to Force Feed Prisoners

Palestinian prisoners risk their lives to obtain basic rights in Israeli jails. (Photo: ActiveStills.org, file)

Israeli ministers approved a bill Sunday that would allow prisoners on hunger strike to be force fed if their life is in danger, sparking criticism from health experts and rights groups.

The cabinet’s endorsement of the controversial bill was led by Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who said that prisoners observing a hunger strike, namely Palestinians, pose a “threat” to Israel.

“Alongside attempts to boycott and delegitimize Israel, hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel,” Erdan said on his Facebook page.

The same bill was approved by the Israeli government last year and sent to parliament for debate but the Knesset was dissolved before it could start deliberating.

The bill was initially approved in June 2014 at the height of a mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners during which 80 were hospitalized.

Chairman of the Israeli Medical Association, Leonid Eidelman, slammed the bill, saying force feeding prisoners against their will is “unethical”.

In a letter addressed to Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Eidelman also insisted that the IMA would “order doctors to act solely according to the rules of ethics, and not feed or nourish hunger strikers against their will.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel stressed that force feeding was forbidden.

“Any decision on medical procedure, including feeding or nourishing a person, should be made by an independent medical team and in according to the legal rights of the patient,” which include the need for consent, ACRI said in a statement.

“Hunger strikes for prisoners are a legitimate means of objection,” ACRI said.

The majority of prisoners who go on hunger strike in Israeli jails are Palestinians in administrative detention, under which they held for renewable six-month periods without charge, ACRI said.

The Palestinian government last week warned Israel it was responsible for the health of Khader Adnan, a detainee on hunger strike for over 40 days.

A spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service told AFP that besides Adnan, one other Palestinian prisoner was on hunger strike, for approximately one week.

Hamas on Sunday called for the immediate release of Adnan and Islam Hamad, a prisoner of the Palestinian Authority who has reportedly been on hunger strike for 63 days.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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