Monday, July 06, 2020

Israeli ‘force-feeding bill’ sparks spiral of ethical condemnation

By Zuzana Brezinová - June 16, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Israeli Justice System] [prisoners] [Life behind bars]

On June 14, 2015, the Israeli cabinet passed a bill authorising the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails. The bill, which is now awaiting its second and third reading in the Knesset, raises serious ethical and human rights’ concerns both within Israel and worldwide.

The cabinet’s endorsement process was led by the Internal Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, who considers hunger strikes to be a new 'weapon’ of the Palestinian prisoners 'with which they are trying to threaten the State of Israel,’ as he wrote on his Facebook page.

“Security prisoners are interested in turning hunger strikes into a new kind of suicide attack that would threaten the State of Israel. We cannot allow anyone to threaten us and we will not allow prisoners to die in our prisons,” said Erdan in an interview for the Times of Israel.

Erdan’s push to reopen the parliamentary deliberation comes amidst the last year’s unsuccessful attempt to enact the law, which was halted by the dissolution of the Israeli parliament in June 2014, and the recent upsurge in hunger strikes among the Palestinian detainees.

The Israeli Medical Association (IMA) and the Physicians for Human Rights strongly condemned the renewal of the legislation process declaring the bill’s provisions 'unethical’ and 'violating the international law’.

“There is a broad consensus in international law and in the global medical community that force-feeding a prisoner on hunger strike against his will is forbidden, as it violates the prisoner’s right to autonomy over his body and to dignity, as well as breaching fundamental rules in medical ethics,” said B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, in its 2014 statement.

The force-feeding of prisoners either through food tube, or intravenous treatment, seriously contravenes the Patient's’ Right Law enacted in 1996 and places “responsibility on physicians to carry out invasive treatment of prisoners,” said Leonid Eidelman, the chairman of the IMA.

Eidelman personally instructed doctors to observe their ethical guidelines and international conventions and therefore refuse to provide any forced medical treatment that would oppose their patient’s will.

“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 detention,” says the chairman of the Physicians for Human Rights, an Israel-based NGO.

Administrative detention, a colonial relict from the British mandate era, is a widely used practice by the Israeli military authorities. It allows for a repetitive detention of a person without any concrete charges or a proper trial.

“We urge the international institutions to intervene because every prisoner has the right to launch a hunger strike to express his outrage of the Israeli mistreatment," said Hassan Abd Rabbo, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Detainees.



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