Ignoring Calls by Human Rights Experts, Medical Community, Israel OKs 'Legislative Foundation for Torture'

The Israeli parliament on Thursday passed a law allowing for the force-feeding of prisoners. It has been criticized as providing “a legislative foundation for torture.”

Medical organizations, including the Israeli Medical Association, have denounced force feedings as violating human rights and medical ethics.

The bill passed the body, known as the Knesset, 46-40. According to a Knesset statement released Thursday:

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) stated last month:

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year noted the use of force-feeding at the Guantanamo prison to help make his case for swift passage of the bill.

Among the members of parliament speaking out against the legislation was Dov Khenin of the Joint Arab List, who said during debate ahead of the vote that it is “cruel, dangerous and unnecessary.”

“No hunger-striking prisoner has ever died in the State of Israel, but 50 prisoners who were force-fed did die. This law kills, and it permits things that are prohibited according to international norms,” he said.

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As Common Dreams previously reported:

Earlier this week two United Nations human rights experts issued a statement urging Israeli authorities not to approve the practice, and noted that Palestinians would be most affected by the law.

“Under no circumstance will force-feeding of prisoners and detainees on hunger strike comply with human rights standards,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius PĂ»ras, stated Tuesday.

Reacting to the bill’s approval, PHR-Israel said it was a “shameful law,” and urged the medical community to “refuse to serve as a medical fig leaf for torture.”

The bill “pushes the medical community to severely violate medical ethics for political gains, as was done in other dark regimes in history.

“We are now faced with a horrendous law that turns medicine into a tool of policing, punishment and oppression. PHR-Israel will support anyone who will refuse to obey the law and will stand against any attempt to force-feed hunger strikers,” the group stated.

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