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Israel plans to force-feed hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner

Israeli authorities tell Mohammad Allan, who has been hunger striking to protest being held without charge, that they intend to ask a district court to authorize force-feeding him.

Illustrative photo of Palestinian prisoners in an Israeli military prison (By ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)

Illustrative photo of Palestinian prisoners in an Israeli military prison (By ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)

Israeli authorities plan to use a brand new “force-feeding” law against a Palestinian man currently being held without charge who is on the 52nd day of a hunger strike.

Authorities on Friday told Mohammad Allan’s attorney that they intend to ask a district court to authorize force-feeding him, according to Physicians for Human Rights — Israel.

PHR sent out a press release on Saturday:

This would be the first recourse to the shameful legislation that the Knesset has approved on July 30, authorizing the force-feeding of Palestinian detainees on hunger-strike against their will despite vehement opposition of the medical community and human rights organizations in Israel and worldwide. PHR-Israel is about to appeal against it in Israel’s Supreme Court, while the Israeli Medical Association has submitted its petition last week.

Force-feeding violates medical ethics as it administers forceful treatment to a patient against his will, and is considered a form of torture. Article 7 of the 1975 World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo states that doctors are not allowed to force-feed hunger strikers. Israel’s medical community should stand firm and united in this testing time. PHR-Israel encourages the doctors and nurses in Soroka hospital to refuse to carry out any act that violates the letter and spirit of medical ethics.

PHR-Israel urgently calls to refrain from any type of forced treatment on Mohammad Allan and urges the Israeli authorities to release him immediately.

Two weeks ago Israeli authorities agreed to release another Palestinian hunger striker, also being held without charge in administrative detention.

The World Medical Association has unequivocally stated that physicians should respect a patient’s refusal to accept food and/or water. “Forced feeding contrary to an informed and voluntary refusal is unjustifiable,” the WMA Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikersreads.

The WMA declaration goes on to explain, hunger strikes “are often a form of protest by people who lack other ways of making their demands known. In refusing nutrition for a significant period, they usually hope to obtain certain goals by inflicting negative publicity on the authorities.”

The head of the Israeli Medical Association, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, has long opposed attempts to force-feed prisoners. As similar legislative measures came and went over the years, he has consistently argued that they contradict medical ethics and declared he would advise doctors to ignore any order to administer force-feeding.

By force-feeding hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, Israel hopes to undercut the only non-violent path prisoners have to protest their treatment and denial of due process. Hunger strikers have gained significant support on the Palestinian street, and Israeli authorities have long warned that letting high-profile hunger strikers die could spark unrest. Israeli politicians also believe that Israel would face international pressure over its practice of administrative detention if hunger strikes go on for too long.

According to Palestinian prisoner support organization Addameer, Israeli authorities were holding 414 Palestinians in administrative detention as of April 1, 2015, including a number of elected members of the Palestinian parliament.

Administrative detention is permitted under international law but only in extreme circumstances. Under Israeli law, the practice is a holdover from the British Mandate period and has been kept in effect by Israel’s emergency regulations. Those emergency regulations supersede most basic civil and human rights in Israel.

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