Netanyahu is pushing a new bill to allow the force-feeding of Palestinian hunger strikers. The prime minister is in good company.
American practices at the prison at Guantanamo Bay are giving Benjamin Netanyahu ideas.
Earlier this week, a draft bill authorizing the force-feeding of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners passed the first of three readings in the Knesset. Of the roughly 300 prisoners presently fasting in protest of Israeli administrative detention, at least 70 are hospitalized around the country, shackled to their beds. If the bill becomes law, dozens of them may be forced to undergo the procedure.
Netanyahu is personally pressing for the law, prodded along by the Shin Bet security service. The Shabak is calling for a tough approach to the mass strike and refusing to negotiate with the prisoners lest they see any benefit from their protest. The prime minister is in good company. He explicitly cited the United States as inspiration, reportedly telling Israel’s Channel 2 that “in Guantanamo, the Americans are using the method of force-feeding too.”
The echoes of the U.S. example don’t stop there. Like its American and international counterparts, the Israeli Medical Association, to its credit, won’t go along, citing “the sanctity of life and the duty to respect the autonomy of the patient.”
Force-feeding, by all accounts, is an excruciating procedure that causes immense pain and has been declared “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” by medical experts the world over. Watch this video of rapper Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) being force-fed under the Guantanamo procedure (warning: it’s hard to watch), or consider this description of a method used at the island prison, a variation of “the water cure,” which has roots in the Spanish Inquisition:
In 2012, Khader Adnan, a Palestinian held in Israel without charge or trial, agreed to stop his 66-day hunger strike in exchange for release from prison. Several other hunger strikes, including that of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, were called off under similar terms. The prisoners managed to mobilize their only vestiges of autonomy – their bodies – in protest of a manifestly unjust practice. Israel, faced with the fallout of their deaths, no longer found them too dangerous too free.
But the Shin Bet is clearly seeking to avoid a repetition of those earlier successes. “You can’t have a situation...Read More