Israeli Doctors to Challenge Law Allowing Force-Feeding in Highest Court

lt;pgt;Israeli doctors are to appeal a controversial law passed by the Israeli parliament, which allows the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike, within the coming days.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;The bill, which was passed on Thursday, allows Israeli authorities to sanction the force-feeding of prisoners who are refusing to eat as an act of political protest if there is deemed to be a sufficient threat to the detainee#039;s life.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;The law applies to all Israeli prisoners but Palestinian prisoners predominantly use hunger strikes to protest Israel#039;s secretive quot;administrative detentionquot; process, where prisoners are detained for long periods of time, sometimes months, by Israeli forces without a trial or any formal charges against them.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;The Israel Medical Association, the country#039;s professional body for doctors, has consistently opposed the implementation of the law since a draft bill was first formulated by the Justice Ministry in 2013. After its passing today in a 46-40 vote in the Israeli parliament, the medical body announced that it had ordered Israeli doctors not to comply with the force-feeding of detainees.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;In addition to the non-compliance order to the country#039;s doctors, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, chairman of the medical organisation, told lt;emgt;Newsweeklt;/emgt; that the organisation will move to oppose the law through legal channels.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;quot;It is a sad moment. We are going to appeal to the highest court of justice in the next couple of days,quot; he says. quot;I have sent another letter to Israeli doctors to say that force-feeding is torture and it is absolutely forbidden for doctors to take part in torture.quot;lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;quot;You never know what will be the decision of the Supreme Court but what I am confident about is that Israeli doctors will not force-feed patients,quot; Eidelman adds. quot;Force-feeding is a very brutal act and it can cause damage to the lungs, damage to the stomach, the oesophagus and internal bleeding.quot;lt;/pgt; lt;divgt;lt;!--0--gt;lt;/divgt; lt;pgt;A number of human rights organisations and Israeli opposition members of parliament have condemned the bill. The opposition Arab-majority Joint List said the law quot;legalises torturing of Palestinian prisoners,quot; while the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel NGO called it quot;uglyquot; as it withheld the right of a prisoner to strike. The human rights organisation Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel also condemned it as quot;torture.quot;lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;Despite the criticism of the controversial legislation, officials involved in the law#039;s implementation believe that the Medical Association#039;s potential appeal has a limited chance of success at the country#039;s top court.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;quot;I don#039;t think that they will be very successful. The law is so balanced,quot; Yoel Hadar, the legal advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, tasked with aiding the law#039;s passage through the Israeli parliament, says. quot;It does not force the doctor to give the treatment, it only allows the doctor who thinks he needs to give the treatment to do so. The role of a doctor is to save lives and we want them to save lives.quot;lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;Government officials also defended the bill by emphasising that it#039;s being implemented to save the lives of prisoners who are risking their health by going on hunger strike.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;In a statement, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan who tabled the bill, said the law was a necessary measure to prevent prisoners securing political concessions from the government.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;quot;The hunger strikes of the terrorists in jail have turned into a tool they use to try to pressure and threaten the state of Israel and to cause it to release terrorists,quot; he said. quot;The new law allows us to prevent a threat to the prisoners#039; lives and to prevent them from putting pressure on the state.quot;lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;Israeli government spokesman David Baker told lt;emgt;Newsweek:lt;/emgt; quot;Israel is responsible for the health and safety of those incarcerated in our prisons and has an obligation to prevent prisoners from committing suicide.quot;lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;One of the most famous instances of a Palestinian on hunger strike is Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan, who was held in administrative detention in an Israeli prison a total of 10 times without charge within the space of six years. He was released earlier this month, after enduring a 55-day hunger strike which left him in critical condition, as part of a deal with Israel to secure his release, the terms of which remain undisclosed.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;According to figures released by the Israel Prison Service earlier this year, 396 Palestinians, including one woman, were still being held in administrative detention at the end of March. In April last year, approximately 300 Palestinian prisoners launched a mass hunger strike in protest against Israel#039;s system of administrative detention, which lasted for two months and became the longest mass hunger strike in Palestinian history.lt;/pgt;