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PA: 'Immediate Action Against Israel' Over Hunger Strikes

Saeb Erekat writes to EU, UN over hunger strikes, claims terrorists are being wrongfully held without trial.
By AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 6/11/2014, 3:52 PM

Jail (illustration)
Jail (illustration)
Thinkstock

A senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official has called for "international action" against Israel Wednesday, claiming that more than 100 Palestinian Arab terrorists who have been on a long-term hunger strike are being held without trial.

"I am writing on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization and president Mahmud Abbas to request your immediate intervention on behalf of the approximately 130 Palestinian detainees and prisoners currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons," Saeb Erakat said in a letter obtained by AFP Wednesday.

"We call on you to call on Israel to annul the policy of administrative detention and to condition deepening your bilateral ties with Israel pending Israel's fulfillment of all its obligations," he wrote in English.

Administrative detention is a procedure dating back to the pre-1948 British mandate under which military courts can hold suspects without charge for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

The letter, issued on Tuesday, was sent the European Union's member states, Brazil, South Africa and India.

It was also sent to UN Security Council members, but not to non-permanent member Australia, which recently said it would no longer refer to Jerusalem as "occupied," infuriating the Palestinian Authority, who vowed unspecified revenge. 

Israel Prisons Service told AFP there were currently 250 inmates refusing food, 90 of them for over six weeks of whom 75 had been hospitalized.

IPS spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said this was the longest-ever mass hunger strike of Palestinian Arab terrorists in Israeli prisons. 

Meanwhile, Israel pushed forward with plans for a life-saving bill to enable doctors to feed hunger strikers against their will.

The Knesset on Monday approved the bill in its first reading, ahead of a series of debates in a committee and two further plenum votes before it passes into law.

But the draft legislation, composed by the internal security ministry, has raised objections not only among leftist and Arab lawmakers, but also from the Israel Medical Association which has urged Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTnua) to block the bill.

In a letter to Livni, the IMA warned the move would be "in total contradiction to internationally-accepted medical ethics" and Israel's medical ethical code.

Despite the move - which is designed to save lives - the IMA insists that force-feeding poses a "danger" to the health of those on hunger strike "and is against the non-maleficence principle." The letter was signed by IMA head Doctor Leonid Edelman and Professor Avinoam Reches, chairman of its ethics bureau.

"The proposed law is wrong ethically and professionally, it won't only damage the patients and their medical condition, but also Israel's world standing," they wrote. "We can't accept a law that places doctors in a battle they should have no part of, in total contrast to their professional and ethical duties."

Hunger strikes are a common tactic by Palestinian Arab terrorists to gain political visibility for their cause in the international community. 

Several weeks ago, hundreds of Palestinian Arab terrorist prisoners declared a hunger strike in "solidarity" with a Hamas prisoner's solitary confinement. After a media brouhaha, the terrorists ended the hunger strike just hours after it began. 

Some 1,550 Palestinian Arabs imprisoned in Israel ended a hunger strike in May 2012, in exchange for a package of measures which would allow visits from relatives in Gaza and the transfer of detainees out of solitary confinement.