Doctors (illustration)
Doctors (illustration) Israel news photo: Flash 90

After doctors at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva said they would not participate in force-feeding efforts, security officials have moved terrorist Mohammed Allaan to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon – where hospital director Hazi Levi said that his institution would comply with the law and force-feed the hunger-striking terrorist.

Allaan has been on a hunger strike for 54 days, and is said to be “near death.” He had been taken to Soroka Hospital for treatment, but staff there said they would not force-feed him to save his life, as a new law passed by the Knesset requires.

According to the law passed by the Knesset last month, prisoners can be force-fed to prevent them from doing irreversible damage to their body, or endangering their life. If the court authorizes force-feeding, officials will be able to administer only the minimum amount of nutrition necessary to keep the prisoner alive. In addition, officials will be required to use “all means at their disposal” to persuade prisoners to willingly end their hunger strike.

According to Levi, the hospital will respect Aallaan's wishes and attempt to persuade him to eat. However, if his life is truly in danger, the hospital's ethics committee is likely to authorize force-feeding, because saving a patient's life is just as important as ensuring their freedom of choice, he said. According to the law, if the prisoner actively refuses being fed, prison officials will be allowed to use “reasonable force” to make them eat.

Allaan, an Islamic Jihad terrorist, is one of many Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons who have long used hunger strikes as a tactic to be let out of prison – a tactic that worked most recently just several weeks ago, when Israel released Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan following a 56-day hunger strike that allegedly brought him near death. Adnan was re-arrested the day after being released for violating terms of his release.

In a note accompanying the bill, Knesset supporters wrote that the use of hunger strikes by terrorists “is a known phenomenon that has been going on for years. Sometimes these hunger strikes involve a great many prisoners, who continue with their hunger strike for an extended period of time, to the point that they endanger their lives. These challenges require us to form an appropriate response, and this bill constitutes that response.”