Thursday, July 30, 2015

Israel Declares War on Palestinian Hunger Strikers

Israel Declares War on Palestinian Hunger Strikers

by Stephen Lendman

Israel’s hardline Knesset approved legislation authorizing force-feeding Palestinian hunger strikers for justice.

Racist Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said "(a)longside attempts to boycott and delegitimize Israel, hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel."

Cabinet members approved the practice weeks earlier. It’s torture by other means. It causes extreme pain and suffering. A previous article described the procedure as follows:

Tubes are forced painfully through their noses and throats to their stomachs. It's done abrasively. It draws blood. 

Liquid nutrients are pumped into their stomachs. No sedatives or anesthesia are given. The procedure is administered twice daily. If vomiting occurs, the procedure is repeated.

Tubes are generally reused. They're covered in blood and stomach bile. At US torture prisons they're passed from one inmate to another. Israel likely intends the same procedure.

The World Medical Association (WMA) is the preeminent international group in the field of medical ethics and practice. 

It condemns force-feeding, saying it violates fundamental medical ethics. When accompanied by "threats, coercion, force, and use of physical restraints, (it's) considered inhuman and degrading treatment."

It blatantly violates Geneva's Common Article 3 and other human rights laws prohibiting cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment. 

Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, said “(t)he approval of such a law shows racism and brutality in the Israeli government. (It) believes that it is above the law by approving laws against the Geneva convention and international humanitarian law." 

Arab-Israeli MK Ahmed Tibi said that hunger strikes are a non-violent attempt for "legal and political achievements. It is the only thing Palestinian prisoners feel can be done in Israeli prisons.”

A statement from other Arab MKs bashed “a law to torture Palestinian prisoners, aimed at uprooting their legitimate struggle.”

The Israeli Medical Association (IMA) called the measure “damaging and unnecessary.” Its members will “continue to act according to medical ethics, which prohibit doctors from participating in torturing prisoners.” It stressed force feeding is “tantamount to torture.”

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) called the new law “shameful.” It reveals the “anti-democratic face” of Knesset extremism. It promised continued opposition to the measure and “support (for) anyone…refus(ing) to obey” it.

The Palestinian prisoner support group Addameer said the new law provides “legal cover” to torture prisoners. It’ll facilitate “kill(ing) more Palestinian hunger strikers.” Five others died earlier from the practice despite no law at the time authorizing it. 

A Knesset press statement said prison officials must use “all means at their disposal” to persuade inmates to eat before resorting to force feeding.

IMA and PHR-I may petition Israel’s High Court to declare the new measure in violation of fundamental international human rights law.

Most Palestinian hunger strikers are held administratively uncharged and untried - one of many draconian Israeli practices. They can be held indefinitely with no chance for justice - or if released are often rearrested and again imprisoned unjustly.

At any time, hundreds of Palestinians guilty of no crimes are persecuted this way. Haaretz editors addressed the practice headlining “Israel must stop draconian detentions without trial,” saying:

Israel doubled the number of administrative detainees since last summer’s Gaza war. “It reflects excessive, illicit use of a means intended only for rare, aberrant cases.”

At most, it should be “temporary, specific and limited” - never standard practice affecting hundreds of Palestinians unjustly.

It’s extrajudicial “without the guarantees, evidence and standards that the legal system requires.”

“The wholesale use of detention without trial is a severe breach of the right to liberty, one of the core rights of (Israel’s) Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. The state must restrict this measure to especially grievous and rare cases and stop its current practice immediately.”

Most Palestinian hunger strikers are administrative detainees held without charge or trial because they committed no crimes. No evidence proves any. Refusing food is their only way to resist a draconian practice.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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