The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved a controversial bill that would allow authorities to force-feed prisoners if their lives are in danger. The bill, which had been approved once before in June last year, will now be sent to the Knesset -- the Israeli parliament -- before it becomes law.
“Security prisoners are interested in turning a hunger strike into a new type of suicide terrorist attack through which they will threaten the State of Israel,” Gilad Erdan, Israel’s internal security minister, reportedly said. “We will not allow anyone to threaten us and we will not allow prisoners to die in our prisons.”
However, many, including the Israel Medical Association (IMA), have criticized provisions of the bill, which “places responsibility on the doctors to take actions despite the active objections of the detainee.”
“This significant change -- which is the foundation of the bill -- contradicts and is in opposition to the standards of medical ethics accepted in Israel and by the entire world, and could almost certainly place doctors in the near-future in difficult and dangerous dilemmas,” Leonid Eidelman, chairman of IMA, said, according to Haaretz, adding that force-feeding prisoners would require employing measures “bordering on torture.”
Currently, nearly 5,600 Palestinians are believed to be held in Israeli prisons, according to an estimate by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group. As of now, two of these prisoners are on hunger strike, including Khadar Adnan -- a detainee who has refused to eat for over 40 days, Al Jazeera reported. Adnan, who is yet to be formally charged by Israeli authorities, had gone on a hunger strike for 66 days during his previous "administrative detention" in 2012 -- a move that led to his eventual release.
“Instead of force-feeding prisoners who are humiliated and whose lives are in danger, Israel should deal with the demands of the hunger strikers -- through the ending of administrative detentions,” Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based nonprofit reportedly said, describing the bill as a “disgraceful” move by the Israeli government.