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Israel to Rush Force-Feeding Bill Through Knesset

Controversial bill to force-feed hunger strikers to be expedited through the political process, despite internal and external opposition.
By AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 6/17/2014, 3:58 PM

Jail (illustrative)
Jail (illustrative)
Flash90

Israel is to rush through a bill allowing the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners according to reports Tuesday, as 80 Palestinian Arab terrorists were hospitalized after refusing to eat for nearly two months. 

Efforts to speed up the passage of the bill, which passed a first reading on June 9, are being led by MK Miri Regev (Likud), Haaretz reported.

The Knesset is expected to hold a second and third reading of the bill on Monday, a parliamentary official told AFP.

Last week, a senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official called for "international action" against Israel over the measures, sending a letter to the European Union and the United Nations. 

The Israel Prisons Service told AFP last week that 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. 

The Knesset approved the bill allowing forced-feedings in its first reading last week, ahead of a series of debates in a committee and two further plenum votes before it passes into law. The Israeli Medical Association (IMA) has made its opposition to the bill known for a while. 

The draft legislation, composed by the public security ministry, raised objections among leftist and Arab lawmakers, and the IMA urged Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) to block it. 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.

"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."

MKs and other political officials from both the right and left have also opposed the force-feeding bill - albeit for different reasons. While many leftist MKs have expressed "right to die" concerns over the bill, several nationalist MKs have argued that the bill is a waste of state money and resources. 

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.