Israel’s far-right government is considering importing foreign doctors to force-feed Palestinian hunger strikers if Israeli doctors continue to refuse taking part in the practice. The Israel Medical Association has advised its physician members not to participate in any force-feeding, deeming the practice inhumane. Israel’s Channel 2 reported Thursday, May 5, that the government intends to bring in doctors from a specific, unidentified country to force-feed prisoners whose physical condition threatens their survival.
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are still taking part in the strike, now in its 22nd day. Led by Marwan Barghouti, a popular leader of the Fatah movement the strikers are demanding better prison conditions and seek to expose Israel’s illegal system of arresting and trying Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office supported legislation allowing physicians to feed prisoners against their will, saying that the government is obligated to save the lives of prisoners in its system. Despite the Israel Medical Association’s (IMA) objections, the Supreme Court ruled last year that the law requiring force-feeding is constitutional.
The Ministry of Health has ordered physicians who refuse to force-feed strikers whose lives are in danger to find another physician willing to treat the patients, Haaretz reported. The IMA rejected this order as well, saying it is not customary for doctors to find a replacement if they demur on ethical grounds. The association does instruct its doctors to act on the behalf of strikers if they are unable to express their wishes.