YOU can be assured that Israeli consciousness will not be perturbed one iota if Palestinian hunger strikers in prison start dying one by one. It is surely a travesty of justice to see around 125 revert to disparate measures and begin an open-ended hunger strike, started 24 April 2014 in a bid to change their status, termed as administrative detention without formal charges at the whims of the Israeli authorities.
Despite the violation of international law and in spite of the fact that many international figures including United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has been speaking against arbitrary detentions of Palestinians, such pleas are today falling on deaf ears by the Israeli government which is adopting an abrasive and unwavering stance towards what has become a humanitarian issue.
On the contrary, and at the dictation of Shin Bet, the internal security service, and which is following a myopic, short-sighted policy, the Benjamin Netanyahu government is being told not to acquiesce to Palestinian demands and not to let up on administrative detention. Director of Shin Bet Yoram Cohen has become the maestro, urging — in parrot-like fashion, the government — to continue its unyielding and tough stand on Palestinian hunger-strikers regardless of any possible disturbances from Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza which he says he can put down through his security agents.
In total 300 Palestinian prisoners are now on strike, including those protesting administrative detentions and 70 of these have been moved to Israeli hospitals and the figure is likely to continue to spiral. The number of hunger-strikers has become inflated as solidarity among Palestinian prisoners became widespread. Many prisoners for instance are making occasional one-day hunger protests while others are taking up the case in definitely. This is bearing in mind that the total prison population stands at around 5,200. More support from these prisoners may well increase as the health of Palestinian hunger-strikers continue to deteriorate and they start to fall into stupors which is already happening as they enter in the 50th day and are moving forward.
This is in addition to the solidarity the hunger-strikers are getting from the Palestinian people on the West Bank and Gaza and as expressed in demonstration, rallies and shop closures.
Israel is already finding itself unstuck for the Palestinian hunger-strikers are showing great determination and resolve while showing no fear of death. This time around they have learned their lesson and will not be fooled by Israeli “pep” talk made in 2012 when 2000 Palestinian prisoners stopped their hunger-strikes at what later proved as empty promises by the Israeli authorities to reconsider administrative detention and improving prison conditions.
This time around, Israel continues with its ‘business as usual’ attitude, of its tough, no-nonsense talk, but it could also find itself sitting on another Palestinian time-bomb this time far more deadly and organised, complicated with the recently formed Fatah-Hamas unity government which may give Palestinian-Israeli stop-go relations a different twist. Because of this Israel is definitely under pressure. Its tank and barrel-of-the-gun tactics are being supplemented by a far more deadly measure which its introducing through the Knesset by way of rushing in a bill to empower the Israeli authorities to force-feed Palestinian hunger-strikers through inserting tubes to their stomachs and maintain them alive and tell the world ‘we are doing our best’.
But not so fast. This measure has long been branded as cruel torture and an exercise that was long condemned internationally by the World Medical Association and by NGOs inside the Jewish state like the Israeli Medical Association and National Bioethics Council which is openly stating that the Netanyahu government has no right in forcing doctors to carry out such prohibited practices with Israeli medical practitioners saying they will not condemn torture.
However, this is not stopping ministers and Knesset members to relish the moment and espouse such a new bill that would soon become law after its third reading. They have no qualms about the new draft because Israeli ministers say they are taking the queue from the Americans who have used forced-feeding in Guantanamo Bay to keep prisoners alive. Yoel Hadar of the Israeli Public Security Ministry and who initiated the force-feeding bill says that such measure does not go against international conventions and has been practiced in such countries as Austria and Australia.
Israel has sought to give the bill an aura of legalistic legitimacy, no doubt to be in-line with its democratic trappings regardless of what really goes on behind closed doors and the perception of Israeli decision-makers or the security establishment. They at the same time ignore the fact that administrative detention — 200 Palestinians are held in that category — are automatically renewed after their six-month period is up, and with some incarcerated for as long as eight years with no formal charges.
Under the new law, if a person is to be force-fed because of life-threatening dangers, then the prison authorities will need to seek a court injunction that will be automatically given because of its legislative imprint. This, while ignoring the fact that the due process, rights of Palestinian detainees, are thwarted under the guise of legal jargon. courtesy gulf news
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