Israel Legalizes Torture against Palestinian Prisoners;
On Thursday, 30 July 2015, the Israeli Knesset passed in the second and third readings an amendment to the so-called ‘Law to Prevent Harm of Hunger Strike’ allowing force-feeding of prisoners.This step came in challenge of all international warnings to Israel to prevent passing the law which legalizes torture.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the international community to go beyond condemnation and denunciation and immediately act to stop the application of this law.

The Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, from the Likud Party, presented the bill that allows force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strikes to the Israeli Knesset.

The amendment, rejected by the Israeli Medical Association, was supported by 46 members of the Israeli Knesset and rejected by 40 others.

Commenting on the approval of the amendment, Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, stated: ‘Hunger strike is the last resort for a Palestinian prisoner. When all other means fail, a prisoner resorts to struggle using of his body cells and empty stomach in protest against inhuman detention conditions and to claim his legitimate rights as enshrined in international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law. This has become impossible after this latest amendment’.

Sourani added: ‘Approval of this amendment reflects the state of moral retrogression of Israel, which perpetrates violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law in cold blood with consent of state official bodies and the Knesset’.

The UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and health urged the Israeli government not to endorse this amendment.

The Un Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment said: ‘It is not acceptable to force-feed or use threats of force-feeding or other physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike to protest against their detention without charge and conditions of detention and treatment… Feeding induced by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints are tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health rejected any law involving force-feeding considering that ‘prisoners’ rights to control their health, body, and be free from interference such as non-consensual medical treatment are fundamental elements of the right to health that must be respected and protected’.

PCHR stresses that endorsement of this amendment reflects Israel’s insistence to challenge international law and will. Therefore:

1. PCHR emphasizes that this amendment is aimed to curb Palestinian prisoners’ attempts and deprive them of the only available means to expose Israeli violations and the policy of administrative detention against Palestinian prisoners.

2. PCHR stresses that Israel has serious precedents in the field of force-feeding as a number of Palestinian prisoners died in the past during this process.

3. PCHR points out that the international silence towards Israeli violations of international law has encouraged Israel to disregard international law and community.

4. PCHR holds Israel and the whole international community, especially State Parties to the Convention against Torture, fully responsible for the risks and extreme suffering which Palestinian prisoners will face following the endorsement of this inhuman amendment.

Ringing the alarm bell against Israel’s challenge to international law and will by endorsing this amendment, PCHR believes that approval of this violation will give a green line for more serious violations against Palestinian civilians. Therefore:

1. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressurize Israel to annul this amendment and comply with international law, especially the Convention against Torture and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

2. PCHR calls upon all international human rights organizations to act to stop the application of this amendment.

3. PCHR calls upon the Israeli Medical Association to continue its efforts to annul this amendment, which is flagrantly contrary to basic professional standards of the medical profession that exists to serve humanity.