Knesset delays vote on bill to allow force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike

Several Palestinian prisoners still on hunger strike after more than 50 days protesting administrative detention and other practices of Israel Prison Service.

June 23, 2014 07:12
1 minute read.
Palestinians protest in support of hunger striker Samer Essawi outside J'lem court, Feb 19

Palestinians protest in support of hunger striker 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Knesset has delayed a second vote on a bill to allow the forced feeding of prisoners, as per the demand of Yesh Atid and its party leader Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Israel Radio reported on Monday.

The Knesset was due to conduct the final two votes on the controversial bill on Monday.

Two weeks ago, the Knesset passed its first reading of the bill seeking to allow the head of the Israel Prisons Service to contact a district court and request permission to force-feed hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, including a sizable number being administratively detained.

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A group of dozens of Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike for about 50 days protesting administrative detention and other controversial practices of the Israel Prison Service.

The move would only be allowed if a doctor says that the prisoner’s health is in serious danger.

At that point, according to the bill, the court would weigh the doctor’s assessment with that of the treating hospital’s ethics committee before issuing a ruling.

In addition to health issues, the judge would have to take into account state security and public safety considerations, according to the bill.

If the judge rules that force-feeding is permitted in the particular case, Prisons Service personnel would be able to feed hunger-strikers against their will and use force to do so.

Hunger strikes are a common method of protest by Palestinian security prisoners, and have often led to solidarity protests among Palestinians outside the prisons. The strikers refuse Prisons Service meals, but sometimes eat other food.

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