Adalah: Forced-feeding bill is an extreme violation of Palestinian prisoners’ right to protest; prohibition on lawyers’ visits must end

The acceleration of the law’s discussion is part of an attempt by Israel to break the 43-day hunger strike of 170 Palestinian administrative detainees being held in Israeli prisons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he intends to speed up the legislative process of enacting the “Force-feeding bill”, which will allow physicians who treat prisoners on hunger strikes to feed the prisoners against their will. The acceleration of the law’s discussion is part of an attempt by Israel to break the 43-day hunger strike of 170 Palestinian administrative detainees being held in Israeli prisons. 80 of those detainees have been admitted to different hospitals around the country for treatment.

Adalah responded to Netanyahu's remarks that enacting the Force-feeding bill abuses the right of prisoners to strike, and is an extreme violation of Israeli regulations. Adalah asserted that the Force-feeding bill would remove the last civil right that administrative detainees possessed, after they had been denied all other rights that would allow them to strike against their illegal imprisonment. Adalah stated: "Force-feeding is very dangerous to prisoners’ political and constitutional rights, particularly the right to physical integrity, dignity, liberty, and their right to protest".

Prohibition on lawyers’ visits must end

In a related activity, Adalah sent an urgent letter on 4 June 2014 to the public prosecutor in preparation for their petition to the Supreme Court, requesting that he demand that Israeli prisons immediately end the prohibition on lawyers from visiting prisoners on hunger strike. Adalah Attorney Nadeem Shehadeh explained in the letter that the Israeli Prison Service  (IPS) was using all possible justifications to prevent and obstruct lawyers’ visits to the hospitals where the hunger-striking prisoners have been transferred.

For example, Attorney Samer Sam'an from Addameer requested to meet a prisoner on hunger strike but was denied by the prison authorities, who said that the prisoner was only allowed to meet a lawyer every 30 days; a decision made by the head officer in the Israeli prison administration. In another case, Attorney Fadi Al Qawasmi, who has been trying to visit hunger-striking prisoners for over a week, was informed by the Tal Hashomir Hospital in Tel Aviv of a new decision that allowed only one lawyer a day to visit the prisoners in all the hospitals where the prisoners are being treated.

Attorney Nadeem Shehadeh emphasized in the letter that the prohibitions and restrictions imposed on lawyers by the IPS violate Israeli law itself; such restrictions are only allowed in cases where there is concern that such visits may lead to a crime. Attorney Shehadeh added that the lawyers’ ban contradicts Israeli Supreme Court decisions, which affirmed that prisoners’ hunger strikes are not an excuse to prohibit prisoners from meeting with their lawyers. Adalah further stressed that the prisoners’ right to meet with their lawyers was a crucial necessity during hunger-strikes, as the prisoners become exposed to health risks and penalties imposed by the prison authorities, often illegally. The lawyers’ visits are also the prisoners’ only connection to the outside world, as they are banned from using radios, televisions, or even receiving family visits.

Read more:

Haaretz: Barak Ravid, Ido Efrati and Jack Khoury, "PM pushes to force-feed Palestinian hunger-strikers", 3 June 2014


Haaretz: Jack Khoury, "Health of hunger-striking Palestinian detainees in Israel worsens", 2 June 2014