Palestinian rights group slam Israel's force feeding law for prisoners
Israel's Knesset passed a law Thursday to forcibly feed hunger striking prisoners. (AFP/File)
Head of the Palestinian Authority Prisoner's Affairs Committee, Issa Qaraqe, on Thursday strongly condemned an Israeli law passed in the Knesset which will allow prisoners on hunger strike to be force fed.
The law, which passed by 46 votes to 40, "will be used only if a doctor determines that the continued hunger strike will create an immediate risk to the life of a prisoner or long-term damage to his health," David Amsalem of the ruling Israeli Likud party said.
Qaraqe said the law istantamount to legalizing murder and sets a "very dangerous precedent."
“Force-feeding is unethical torture against prisoners that might lead to their death, such as what happened in 1980 in the Nafha prison when three prisoners died after being force-fed,” he added.
The law, which seeks to prevent imprisoned Palestinian prisoners from pressuring Israel by refusing food, was initially approved in June 2014 at the height of a mass hunger strike of Palestinian detainees, during which dozens were hospitalized.
While the law does not specifically mention Palestinians, Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who led the legislation, said it was necessary since "hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel."
“The law aims to break prisoners’ hunger strikes by force-feeding them. They strike peacefully and for just demands," Qaraqe said.
Israel is the only country in the world to implement such a law, the PA official added, noting that Israel will be held responsible for the life of any prisoner that is force-fed in the future.
The Israeli Medical Association called the law "damaging and unnecessary," stressing on Thursday its doctors would "continue to act according to medical ethics, which prohibit doctors from participating in torturing prisoners".
Physicians for Human Rights Israel said the "shameful" law revealed the "anti-democratic face" of the Israeli parliament, saying they would continue to oppose the law and its implementation, and "support anyone who will refuse to obey the law".
Spokeswomen for both organizations said they were considering filing petitions at the high court against the law.
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