Israel rejects doctors’ appeal against hunger strikes law

There are 700 Palestinian prisoners under administrative detention, a procedure dating back to the British mandate of Palestine

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Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday rejected an appeal from the Israel Medical Association and authorized the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike, a court document showed.

“This law is legal under Israeli law and international law,” the court ruled of a law passed in July last year allowing hunger-strikers to be force-fed if their lives are in danger.

“Saving a life must remain the priority and the state is responsible for the lives of its prisoners,” the judges said.

The law aimed to end what the Israeli authorities consider to be blackmail by Palestinian prisoners.

The medical association appealed against the law after doctors complained of being embroiled in a political dispute.

“The state is responsible for the safety of prisoners but also of its citizens whose safety may be endangered because of events such as a hunger strike by prisoners,” the judges added.

Administrative detention

Several Palestinian prisoners held under Israel’s controversial administrative detention law, which allows suspects to be held for renewable six-month periods without trial, have staged hunger strikes.

All called off their protests after being given reassurances that their detention would not be renewed.

Israel says the controversial practice allows authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, while Palestinians, rights groups and members of the international community have condemned the system.

There are currently around 7,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, of whom some 700 are under administrative detention, a procedure dating back to the British mandate of Palestine.

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