Netanyahu Looks to Gitmo to Justify Force-Feeding of Palestinian Hunger Strikers

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Common Dreams

Netanyahu Looks to Gitmo to Justify Force-Feeding of Palestinian Hunger Strikers

Hunger strike against detentions without charge or trial passes day 40

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, not pictured, conduct a press conference at the Dan Cesarea Hotel in Israel, March 25, 2011. (Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, not pictured, conduct a press conference at the Dan Cesarea Hotel in Israel, March 25, 2011. (Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is aggressively pushing a bill that would green-light the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, citing the U.S. military's routine use of this practice against detainees at the Guantánamo Bay offhsore prison.

Netanyahu told the security cabinet on Sunday to move more quickly on discussions of the bill, Haaretz reports.

The Israel National Bioethics Council and Israeli Medical Association are vocally opposing the law, and the IMA vowed on Thursday to prohibit Israeli physicians from participating in force-feeding, which it likened to torture, according to reporting by Israel's Channel 2 News.

In response, Netanyahu declared that he would find doctors willing to carry out the controversial practice and mentioned the U.S.'s routine practice of force-feeding hunger striking Guantánamo Bay inmates.

Force-feeding at Guantánamo Bay has been condemned as torture and a violation of international law by the United Nations human rights office. The painful insertion of tubes and pumping of food, as well as threat of stomach damage and asphyxiation, has been compared to water-boarding.

According to statement from supporters, at least 125 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons have been on hunger strike since April 24 to protest Israel's "administrative detentions," in which the nation holds people without charge or trial on "evidence" that is kept secret from the prisoner and lawyers. Critics charge that these detentions, which  can be renewed indefinitely, are used as a tool of collective punishment of Palestinians.

Hunger strikers were mass hospitalized last week, and as Common Dreams previously reported. According to a letter to U.S. Congress released Tuesday by family members, they are also facing retaliation from prison authorities, including "strip searches; solitary confinement; beating, insults and humiliation during daily cell raids; denial of visits from their families; and restricted access to their legal counsel."

On Sunday, a coalition of human rights organizations released an open letter to the EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton calling for "urgent intervention" on behalf of the hunger striking prisoners.

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