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Factsheet: Force-feeding under International Law and Medical Standards

16-11-2015

Palestinian detainees and prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes as early as 1968 in legitimate peaceful protest to Israeli detention policies and cruel detention conditions including the use of solitary confinement, denial of family visits, inadequate medical treatment and torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Through hunger strikes, Palestinians were able to guarantee basic and fundamental rights and to improve their detention conditions. A significant portion of current rights that Palestinian prisoners have in Israeli occupation’s prisons were obtained through hunger strikes. Since the 1990s, Palestinian prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes as means to protest Israeli arbitrary use of administrative detention.
In response to the use of hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners and detainees, Israeli authorities practiced force-feeding during the 1980s. It was subsequently ceased by order from the Israeli High Court following several deaths of Palestinian prisoners resulting from force-feeding. Nevertheless, the legal applicability of force-feeding was reinstated several years later, following a proposal for a legislation in 2012 by the Israeli minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. The proposal was initiated in response to the mass hunger strike of 2012 with the purpose of putting an end to future hungerstrikes and depriving Palestinian detainees and prisoners from their fundamental right to peaceful protest, and was approved by the Israeli Knesset on the 30th of July 2015.
The policy of force-feeding has been practiced in various contexts in geographic scope and history, where hunger strikes became the prominent method to protest ill treatment, injustice and human rights violations in cases where individuals are deprived of liberty.

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