Knesset to vote on law to legalize the force-feeding of prisoners

PNN/Tel Aviv

Today, the Israeli Knesset is scheduled to vote on the force-feeding of prisoners law. Independent experts have warned that the bill is expected to primarily affect Palestinians held by Israel, including those in administrative detention.

The proposed law allows forcibly force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike. The call comes after the current Knesset decided to continue the legislative process of a bill to amend the Prisons Act (preventing damages due to hunger strikes) initiated by the previous legislature.

Gilad Erdan, the Israeli Minister of Public Security who submitted the bill, said that “prisoners are interested in converting the suicide process to a hunger strike, as a new way to threaten the State of Israel. We will not allow anyone to threaten us and we will not allow prisoners to die in our prisons.”

Despite opposition from the Israeli Medical Association and the international community, the law is expected to be approved in the second and third, and final, reading.

The chairman of the Medical Association, Dr. Edelman, has said that the association will advise doctors to ignore the law if it is passed, adding that force-feeding “isn’t ethical and requires humiliating means bordering on torture.”

Furthermore, Edelman warned that the enactment of this law will lead to an international boycott campaign against Israeli doctors and medicine.

International experts have engaged with the Israeli authorities on different occasions regarding the issue of force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners and detainees. “Under no circumstance will force-feeding of prisoners and detainees on hunger strike comply with human rights standards,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pûras, said. “Informed consent is an integral part in the realization of the right to health.”

“The way to end the hunger strikes is not to force feed hunger-strikers but to address the underlying human rights violations against which they are protesting, namely, the practice of administrative detention”, they said.