The Israel Medical Association has announced its opposition to new bill that would legalize the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners. The bill, currently before the Knesset, has been drafted in response the widespread hunger strikes of Palestinian administrative prisoners. The chairman of the medical association said the bill violated the principle of non-malificence. Another member said that the bill would degrade prisoners to a status below other animals.
The Israel Medical Association has announced its opposition to new bill that would legalize the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners. The bill, currently before the Knesset, has been drafted in response the widespread hunger strikes of Palestinian administrative prisoners. Since April, 125 of the prisoners have gone on hunger strike, and about 70 have been hospitalised.
The medical association’s chairman, Leonid Eidelman, said that the proposed amendment could pose a serious danger to the prisoners’ health and violated the ethical rule of non-maleficence, primum non nocere (“first, do no harm”).
Avinoam Reches, a senior neurologist at Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Medical Center and longtime chairman of the medical association’s ethics bureau, said that the bill treats prisoners worse than animals:
“Israel has a law forbidding the forced feeding of geese to produce better and more pâté de foie gras. If so, why would it allow the force feeding of security prisoners?”.
Reches is also concerned about the consequences for physicians working in prisons: “If they refuse [to force-feed] for ethical reasons, they could be dismissed and lose their income”.
Arnon Afek, Director of Israel’s general health ministry, says that the association’s concerns are unfounded:
“The amendment would be just one tool in dealing with many aspects of caring for prisoners. Most of it involves medical treatment and not force-feeding. There are many checks and balances in the amendment.”
Israel Medical Association condemns new force-feeding bill
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