By Tova Tzimuki and Meir Turjeman
Against the backdrop of regional tension following the establishment of the Fatah-Hamas unity government, Israel fears a violent flare-up in the event that one of the security detainees and prisoners who are hunger striking almost dies.
On April 24, 80 Palestinian administrative detainees in Israel launched a hunger strike to protest their imprisonment by administrative orders and not as a result of a trial. The prisoners demanded to be put on trial or to be released immediately. A few days later they were joined by more detainees and security prisoners. As of yesterday, the strike having come to its 40th day, there were 320 detainees and prisoners on strike with 60 of them hospitalized throughout the country under heavy security.
Israel is concerned about the possibility that one or a number of the hunger strikers will die as a result of their protest, and this will cause the region to deteriorate to violence. They are therefore trying to accelerate the implementation of a law that will permit force feeding of the prisoners in order to save their lives.
Two weeks ago the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill whose drafting was completed by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, at the request of the GSS and the Prisons Service, to be allowed to force feed security prisoners at risk of dying. According to the bill, the security prisoners’ right to protest by means of a hunger strike would still be upheld—but in situations in which they are deemed liable to die, the courts would be authorized to accede to the security agencies’ request to order their force feeding.