Israel cabinet approves force-feeding for prisoners on hunger strike News
Israel cabinet approves force-feeding for prisoners on hunger strike

[JURIST] The Cabinet of Israel [official website] on Sunday approved a bill allowing the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike if their lives are at risk. Entitled Preventing Damage from Hunger Strikes [materials], the law would require doctors to exhaust other means of ending a hunger strike before using force-feeding. Proponents of the bill say it would remove suicide-by-starvation [Jerusalem Post report] as a political tool for prisoners. But opponents, including Physicians for Human Rights-Israel [advocacy website] criticized the proposal in a letter [text] last year, saying “The force-feeding process is inherently cruel, inhuman, and degrading.” The bill must now be approved by the Knesset [official website] before becoming law.

The law first gained notoriety after Palestinian prisoners engaged in a hunger-strike last year [Guardian report] and relations between Israel and Palestine continue to be a significant international legal issue. In April, a UN independent board of inquiry announced that it uncovered evidence that at least 44 Palestinians were killed by “Israeli actions” [JURIST report] while sheltering at UN locations during last year’s Gaza war. In March the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [official website] released [JURIST report] its 2014 Annual Humanitarian Overview, noting that Palestinian civilians continue to face daily threats to their physical safety and liberty, with 2014 holding the highest civilian death toll in the conflict since the annexation of the Palestinian territories in 1967. Also in March the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights told the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] that human rights violations “fuel and shape the conflict” [JURIST report] in the occupied Palestinian territories. In November the UN Human Rights Council urged Israel to investigate [JURIST report] alleged violations committed by its forces during the recent conflict in Gaza.