Israeli doctors refuse to force-feed hunger strikers

Doctors in Israel are refusing to back proposed legislation that would allow Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to be force-fed. The bill, proposed by the Home Front Defense Ministry, comes as at least 65 of the 290 striking detainees have been hospitalized since they stopped eating on April 24. The legislation would empower judges to sanction force-feeding if a detainee's life is perceived to be in danger. But the Israel Medical Association is urging physicians not to cooperate in the practice. "It goes against the DNA of the doctors to force treatment on a patient," said the IMA's Ziva Miral. "Force-feeding is torture, and we can't have doctors participating in torture."

The IMA also pointed out that the World Medical Association opposes the practice.  "We met on the subject with the Justice Ministry and made our position clear, and it's the same as the World Medical Association's," said IMA chair Dr. Leonid Eidelman. "Force feeding must be forbidden, as it's a form of torture and humiliation. We oppose it by all means." (The Independent, June 5; Haaretz, June 3)

  1. UN: Israel should release Palestinians on hunger strike

    United Nations Secretary General Ban Kim Moon on June 6 urged Israel to release Palestinian administrative detainees over fears of failing health in a hunger strike. Some sources estimate that over 290 Palestinians detained in Israel are on hunger strike, with about 70 requiring medical treatment to live. On June 5, the United Nations UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories expressed concern about a bill in the Isreali Knesset that would allow force feeding for those on the hunger strike. The Committee emphasized that the massive hunger strike is retaliation for a lack of due process because the administrative detainees and many other prisoners have not been formally charged with any crime by Israeli forces, but are subject to unlimited renewals of the detention period.

    From Jurist, June 7. Used with permission.

  2. Israeli intelligence veterans go refusenik

    Dozens of veterans of an elite Israeli military signals intelligence unit have said they will no longer serve in operations against Palestinians. Forty-three past and present reservists signed a letter about Unit 8200, which carries out electronic surveillance. They said the intelligence it gathered—much of it concerning innocent people—was used to "deepen military rule" in the Occupied Territories. Israel's military said it held the unit to ethical standards "without rival." (BBC News, Sept. 12)