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Middle East

Israel to rush through force-feeding law

Parliament to speed up bill on force-feeding, as 80 Palestinians on hunger strike for 55 days are taken to hospital.

Last updated: 17 Jun 2014 14:22
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Israel is searching the occupied West Bank for three missing teenagers [AP]

Israel is to rush through a new law allowing force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners, reports say, as 80 Palestinian inmates were taken to hospital after not eating for nearly two months.

Parliament was expected to hold the bill's second and third reading of the bill next Monday, a parliamentary official told AFP, after it passed its first on June 9. It normally takes four to six weeks to reach a third reading.

Efforts to speed up its passage are being led by Miri Regev, a member of the ruling Likud party who initiated the legislation, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The bill would allow a judge to sanction force-feeding if a prisoner's life was perceived to be in danger.

Medical and rights groups are opposed to the draft law, which the UN says would be a contravention of international law.

About 80 long-term Palestinian prisoners have gone without food for 55 days. Most are held without charge under a procedure called "administrative detention", which allows Israel to hold them indefinitely.

Palestinians have demanded intervention to hold Israel responsible for their health and push it to end the use of the procedure.

The Israel Prisons Service put the total number of those on hunger strike at 110, saying 80 of them are being treated in hospital. 

The Palestinian leadership has put the number slightly higher, saying 130 prisoners are on long-term hunger strike, and that in total 400 prisoners had joined the strike at different stages.

Sivan Weizman, a prison service spokesman, said all family visits had been cancelled because of an ongoing Israeli operation in the occupied territories to find three teenagers Israel says have been abducted by Hamas. Hamas denies any involvement.

In a separate development, the Israel Medical Association was to publish a guide for doctors treating hunger-striking prisoners, which would be distributed at wards where the strikers have been sent, Haaretz said.

The Palestinian leadership has also urged the international community to press Israel to cancel its administrative detention laws, in a letter addressed to UN and EU members last week.

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Source:
AFP
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