Israel Awaits Court’s Green Light to Force-Feed Hunger Striking Detainee

RAMALLAH, August 10, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli prison authorities Monday moved hunger striking Palestinian detainee Mohammad Allan to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashdod, while awaiting a court’s ruling to allow Israeli physicians to force-feed him, according to Israeli media.

Israeli TV Channel 10 reported that the Prison Authority decided to move Allan from Soroka hospital in Beersheba to Barzilai, as the latter’s administration expressed willingness to force-feed him.

It said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to set up a special unit in Barzilai to force-feed hunger-striking Palestinian detainees, without having to deal with the Israeli Medical Association and the many physicians who refuse to perform the practice of force-feeding.

Force-feeding is a very critical and dangerous procedure that could lead to deadly outcomes. A video circulating on social media under the title “Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) force fed under standard Guantánamo Bay procedure” shows a man who volunteered to being force-fed in order to demonstrate the brutality of this practice.

As seen in the video, prepared by the Guardian, when prisoners are force-fed they are first strapped into a chair to prevent them from moving during the operation. The head is strapped using a black belt to the chair and the hands and feet are tightly secured as well.

The clip shows a doctor preparing a see-through plastic tube and begins to insert it through the nose of the prisoner and pushes it for few minutes until it reaches the stomach. Meanwhile, the man volunteering in the experiment is seen struggling and his feet and hands twitching in pain.

In the video, the man in an orange suit begins to scream and begs the doctors to stop the procedure. He finally breaks into sobs after they take the tube out.

The clip demonstrates the brutality of force-feeding prisoners, with the intention to highlight the procedure which took place in Guantánamo Bay Detention Center.

According to the Guardian, the procedure takes two hours to complete and typically repeated multiple times throughout the day. The man in the clip, who is still recovering from the procedure, describes it as “Unbearable”.

Allan, an Islamic Jihad activist and an attorney, has seen a significant deterioration in his health after 58 days of hunger strike against administrative detention, a measure that allows Israel to imprison detainees without charge and for renewable periods of time. He was arrested in November 2014 and was placed in administrative detention since then.

Allan went on a hunger strike to protest his illegal detention without charge or trial and is currently facing the risk of being force-fed, despite wide international condemnation of such practice.

While the United Nations considers hunger strike as “a non-violent form of protest used by individuals who have exhausted other forms of protest to highlight the seriousness of their situations”, on July 30, the Israeli parliament, Knesset, approved the second and third reading of a legislation allowing the force-feeding of hunger striking Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails.

The legislation, passed by Israeli Knesset in July, reflected Israel’s concern that hunger strikes by Palestinians in its jails could end in death and trigger waves of protests in the occupied West Bank.

Ahead of the bill’s approval, Issa Qaraqe, Chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, said the law legalizes the murder of Palestinian hunger striking detainees.

“It’s against the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law; it legalizes torture of prisoners who are demanding their rights in a non-violent way.” He asked for a meeting of state parties to the Geneva Conventions to take a stand against the law and demand Israel not to apply it.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, has called “feeding induced by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints of individuals, who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike to protest against their detention… tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, even if intended for their benefit.”

Meanwhile, member of the Israeli parliament Basel Ghattas warned, in a letter Monday, the director of Barzilai Medical Center (BMC) Hezi Levi against allowing the force-feeding of Allan.

Ghattas called on Levi to abide by the ethics of the medical profession, which all consider force-feeding a form of torture. Ghattas asked him not to turn BMC into a new “Guantánamo”.