Israeli government aprroves bill on force-feeding hunger striking prisoners

Published 14.06.2015 23:12
Updated 14.06.2015 23:35

The Israeli government has approved a bill on Sunday to allow prisoners on hunger strike to be force fed if their life is in danger. The bill has brought on many criticisms from health experts and human rights groups.

The cabinet's endorsement of the controversial bill was led by Public 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 by Palestinian prisoners 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 hospitalised.

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 Israel 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 Khadar 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.

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

In 2012, Adnan staged a 60-day hunger strike to protest his ongoing detention-without-trial, prompting scores of other Palestinian detainees to follow suit.

Israel's policy of administrative detention allows the self-proclaimed Jewish state to hold Palestinian prisoners indefinitely without trial or charge.

Administrative detention orders can range from one to six months in length and can be extended by Israeli military courts for periods of up to five years.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners' Society, an NGO, around 6,500 Palestinians-including 200 in administrative detention-continue to languish in jails throughout Israel.

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