Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, announced on Friday that the Israeli military prosecutor intends to request court permission on Saturday to force-feed hunger striking prisoner Muhammad Allan.
If the court rubber-stamps the request, Allan will be the first prisoner to be subjected to the cruel and violent practice since Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law last month permitting its use with a court order.
(A disturbing video by The Guardian featuring the artist Yasiin Bey demonstrates the procedure.)
Allan, a lawyer from the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, has been on hunger strike for at least 50 days in protest of his detention without charge or trial since his arrest in November.
Life in danger
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned today that Allan’s life “is at immediate risk” and called on Israel to grant permission to Allan’s family to visit him. Allan has not been allowed a family visit since 22 March.
The Arabic-language news site Arabs48 reported on Friday that Israeli police threatened to arrest Allan’s mother and other relatives who had begun a sit-in in front of Saroka hospital in Beir al-Sabe (Beersheva), in the south of present-day Israel, where Allan is being held.
The Israeli law ratified last month permits force-feeding or medical treatment against a prisoner’s will if a doctor judges that the prisoner’s life is in danger. An Israeli judge will have to approve each case on an individual basis.
“Force-feeding is violent, very painful and absolutely in opposition to the principle of individual autonomy,” the international organization stated.
“It is a degrading, inhumane treatment, amounting to torture. But worse, it can be dangerous and is the most unsuitable approach to save lives.”
Gilad Erdan, the Israeli interior minister who pushed for the bill to be passed, stated that the measure was necessary since “hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel.”
Hunger strike movement
In recent years, Palestinian prisoners have turned to hunger strike as a means of last resort to secure their most basic rights.
Khader Adnan became the face of a renewed prisoners movement when he launched a 66-day strike in protest of his detention without charge or trial, gaining his release in April 2012.
Adnan was arrested again last year and went on another open-ended hunger strike this spring, winning his release last month after a 55-day strike.
Several additional Palestinian political prisoners were on hunger strike this week; meanwhile, a revolt has been underway as Palestinians have shut down entire prison sections to protest repressive measures taken out against them.
At the beginning of July, Israel was holding 5,442 Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, as well as nearly 1,000 Palestinians held for entering Israel “illegally,” according to statistics compiled by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.