The Attorney General’s Office defended on Monday a controversial bill to allow hunger-striking prisoners to be force-fed, telling the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee it had suitable checks and balances and was not a “torture law.”
The Knesset had been scheduled to vote on the bill in a final reading on Monday, as it had been fast-tracked in response to a hunger strike by dozens of Palestinian administrative detainees that began more than two months ago and has put about 80 of them in hospital. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to postpone the vote by a week because the growing protests in Israel and abroad. MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) charged yesterday that the bill has created a new problem: It would effectively bar doctors from giving life-saving treatment in cases where the courts refuse to approve force-feeding a prisoner. “Today, in order to give life-saving treatment to a hunger-striking prisoner who refuses treatment, doctors can make do with an application to the hospital’s ethics committee,” he said. “The new law states that only the court is permitted to approve administering life-saving treatment by force. In other words, any attempt to grant life-saving treatment without the court’s approval will be in violation of the law. This means the law will directly and concretely endanger human life.” “Force-feeding is like a torture,” he said.