Israel prisoner force-feeding measure becomes law News
Israel prisoner force-feeding measure becomes law

[JURIST] The Israeli parliament [official website] on Thursday passed a law [press release] that allows the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strikes if their lives are at risk. The law, which passed in a close vote of 46 – 40, requires that the force-feeding of an inmate be sanctioned by a judge following the recommendation of a doctor. If a request for force feeding is approved, the law mandates that it be carried out in “as dignified a manner as possible” in private and allows the use of “reasonable force” to carry out the task. The Cabinet of Israel [official website] in June approved the measure [JURIST report], entitled Preventing Damage from Hunger Strikes [materials] intending for the bill to remove suicide-by-starvation [Jerusalem Post report] as a political tool for prisoners. The new law has been criticized [Al Bawaba report] by the Israel Medical Association [official website], which considers force-feeding a form of torture, and protested by Palestinians as a serious violation of human rights.

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.