Israeli doctors denounce bill to force feed Palestinian prisoners

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A Palestinian man lies under a tent in front of the Red Crescent offices in Gaza City on June 2, 2014 after he stopped eating in solidarity with 125 prisoners on long-term hunger strike in Israeli jails. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed Abed)

Published Thursday, June 5, 2014

Israeli doctors have denounced a proposed bill that would permit the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners, as a hunger strike by hundreds of jailed Palestinians enters its sixth week.

The doctors said the practice, supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amounts to torture.

One hundred and twenty prisoners began refusing food on April 24 in the latest in a series of strikes launched two years ago against the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge.

Israeli daily Haaretz on Sunday reported that Netanyahu had instructed his security cabinet to expedite discussions on a bill that would allow Israel to force-feed Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu brushed off human rights concerns over the bill, citing US treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.

"In Guantanamo, the Americans are using the method of force-feeding too," Netanyahu reportedly told Israel’s Channel 2 News, referring to the notorious American prison in Cuba where US authorities have kept suspected fighters captured during the so-called “War on Terror” since 2002.

The Palestinian inmates are protesting Israel’s policy of “administrative detention,” which permits their imprisonment without trial or charge for up to six month period which can be indefinitely renewed.

The Associated Press reports that 290 prisoners are on hunger strike, but their exact number is difficult to determine, with some ending their strikes and others joining in later on.

“Force-feeding is torture, and we can’t have doctors participating in torture,” Israel Medical Association spokeswoman Ziva Miral was quoted by the AP as saying Tuesday.

A coalition of human rights groups released an open letter on Sunday calling on EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton to request her “urgent intervention” on the prisoners’ behalves.

According to the letter, the Israeli Prison Service and Israeli Special Forces have been conducting violent raids on the prisoners’ cells in which the hunger strikers have been beaten and subsequently denied medical treatment.

(Al-Akhbar)

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