Trending Topics:

Israeli leader justifies force-feeding bill by pointing to Guantanamo Bay

on 30 Comments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Cherie Cullen/Department of Defense)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Cherie Cullen/Department of Defense)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to sell legislation that would allow Israeli prison authorities to force-feed hunger strikers–and he’s invoking the United States’ policies at Guantanamo Bay as justification.  The law is being pushed in response to a Palestinian hunger strike that started in April in protest of administrative detention, the practice of holding prisoners without charge or trial.

Last week, Israeli news outlets reported that Netanyahu wanted to expedite passage of the bill, a message that comes as Palestinian hunger strikers’ health is deteriorating. Israel’s Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu noted “in Guantanamo the Americans are using the method of force-feeding too.”  

The U.S. military has long used force-feeding to Guantanamo in response to hunger striking prisoners who are protesting their indefinite detainment. Force-feeding attracted widespread attention during a mass strike last year at the Cuba facility, and President Obama criticized the practice, though his administration continues to utilize it. Force-feeding has been denounced as torture by United Nations officials. Medical groups say that prisoners of sound mind should have the right to refuse food.

Netanyahu’s remarks to cabinet ministers and prison officials came in response to opposition to the bill voiced by Israeli medical groups, who say force-feeding contradicts medical ethics.  “Force-feeding is torture, and we can’t have doctors participating in torture,” the Israeli Medical Association, a physicians’ association, has stated.  (As the Electronic Intifada‘s Maureen Murphy notes, the Israeli medical system has been criticized for complicity in the torture of prisoners.)  The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, supports the force-feeding the bill because they are opposed to negotiating with prisoners over their conditions.  Israeli officials are also weary of having a prisoner die on their watch, lest that lead to an increase in protest in the occupied West Bank.

The legislation to authorize force-feeding passed one reading in the Knesset Monday (it needs to pass two more for the bill to become law).  Netanyahu’s desire to pass the legislation faster comes as the health of hunger strikers worsens.

In early June, 70 hunger strikers were admitted to Israeli hospitals.  Palestinian prisoner rights’ group Addameer reported June 9th that doctors were threatening to force-feed the shackled prisoners if they lost consciousness.  The group added that prisoners’ “core muscles are now deteriorating and the body fat has disappeared from their bodies. Some of them were told by the doctors that they can suffer from a heart attack or stroke at any moment. Some are suffering from intestinal bleeding, vomiting blood and fainting in addition to significant loss of weight and decrease in heart rate and decrease in blood sugar.”

The current hunger strike began in April, and has grown to include an estimated 280 prisoners. The prisoners say it was sparked by Israel reneging on a deal to end the 2012 mass hunger strike, which included a commitment to lessen the use of administrative detention. But since August 2013, Israel increased the amount of prisoners it placed in administrative detention.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

30 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on June 11, 2014, 12:03 pm

    Was Mondoweiss hacked or something or was there a problem with the blogsite past hours?

  2. eljay on June 11, 2014, 12:48 pm

    Zio-supremacists always reach for the bottom of the morality barrel when they need to justify their actions. King Bibi is no exception.

  3. seafoid on June 11, 2014, 1:53 pm

    They always find an excuse but this is such a long way from what the Jewish state was supposed to be

    “Yea, He saith, ‘It is too light a thing for you to be My servant, to establish the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the scions of Israel, and I shall submit you as a light unto the nations, to be My salvation until the end of the earth’ Isaiah 49:6.”I the LORD have called unto you in righteousness, and have taken hold of your hand, and submitted you as the people’s covenant, as a light unto the nations” Isaiah 42:6.”And unto your light, nations shall walk, and kings unto the brightness of your rising” Isaiah 60:3.
    The context of these three references (ch. 41–42, 49, and 60) are a prophecy of comfort (Hebrew: נבואת נחמה) and a promise to the people of Israel, in which God will restore the people of Israel to their land, and this return will cause the rest of the nations to open their eyes, and look up to the people of Israel.”

    and we look at the people of Israel and verily do we see this

    and ,frankly, it’s not very kosher

    But that is the only way to keep the Judenstaat going, innit.

    • Naftush on June 12, 2014, 6:04 am

      So you lambaste Israel because it fails to attain the heights of prophetic vision. That’s a new one (probably not). Never mind that Isaiah and other prophets are speaking of the end of days. Never mind that no other country is spoken of this way. You gotta start somewhere!

      • seafoid on June 12, 2014, 9:24 am

        It doesn’t even meet its treaty obligations. It compares unfavourably to Moldova. Where did it all go wrong ?

  4. just on June 11, 2014, 2:52 pm

    And our slide down the slippery slope (abyss) started by Bushco and the stupid GWOT gets us exactly where we are.

    Monkey see, monkey do. Especially by our very best ‘ally’ and the ‘perfect democracy’/not.

    To our eternal shame, we reap what we sow.

    • seafoid on June 11, 2014, 2:56 pm

      Obama has been prez for 6 years and he did nothing about gitmo. Only 1/3 of the prisoners would be charged in a genuine justice system. Beltway dysfunction keeps them all incarcerated.

      • just on June 11, 2014, 3:44 pm


        Wonder if anyone else saw Congress’ disgusting skewering of Hagel today wrt the trade of 5 for 1 Bowe Bergdahl……

        complete beltway dysfunction…psychosis in its truest sense, and run amok.

  5. palijustice on June 11, 2014, 7:09 pm

    Well, as Americans, we should have tried harder to close Guantanamo down. Force feeding is a torture. Both Israel and the US torture, so it’s not surprising that Israel will do this one too, after all, they torture kids and the soldiers wont even protect kids from settler violence. There’s something really disturbing though when a leader says, well he’s doing it so we can too, even when its a form of torture.

    • German Lefty on June 12, 2014, 5:32 pm

      Well, as Americans, we should have tried harder to close Guantanamo down.

      I disagree. Americans shouldn’t have elected the politicians who established Gitmo.

  6. Citizen on June 11, 2014, 8:42 pm

    Nice, the way the USA works in symbiotic evil relationship with Israel to the harm of the rest of the world. Is this why America’s soldiers died in WW2? Disgusting.

  7. NickJOCW on June 12, 2014, 5:56 am

    We hear the same inverted logic from some commentators here. It’s an unimpeded route back to barbarism. ‘Israeli officials are also weary of having a prisoner die on their watch’. I think Alex may have intended wary but it’s an illuminating slip.

  8. just on June 12, 2014, 8:03 am

    “A postmortem examination of the exhumed body of one of two Palestinian teenagers killed by Israeli forces at a demonstration last month has reportedly identified wounds consistent with live ammunition, despite the Israeli military’s denial that it used live rounds that day.

    According to leaks from the autopsy team, forensic scientists identified entry and exit wounds as well as bullet fragments in Nadeem’s body consistent with live ammunition.

    Nadeem’s family had sought permission from religious authorities to have the boy’s body exhumed and examined on Wednesday by a joint forensic team, including the head of the Palestinian forensic institute and two senior Israeli forensic scientists.

    Although Nadeem’s father, Siam, told the Guardian on Wednesday that he had not received an official autopsy report, details began leaking out later in the evening.

    According to Israeli military sources quoted by Israel’s Channel 10, one possibility under examination was that officers interviewed over the killings had lied to military investigators about the fact that live rounds had not been deployed.

    The wounds identified by the forensic scientists were said to be consistent with images taken at the hospital and seen by local NGOs showing an exit wound in Nadeem’s back from a bullet that had entered his chest close to his nipple.”

    What? Now they are saying that the IOF officers LIED to investigators? That’s their ‘excuse’?

  9. NickJOCW on June 12, 2014, 10:31 am

    Just, CNN showed footage that included the father holding the actual bullet which he found 5 days later in the boy’s bloodied satchel. He said that PA representatives had visited him and wanted to take the bullet but he wouldn’t let them. It seemed he intended to take international legal action and this new autopsy may be preparation for that. He is an educated man whose calm and humanity should be an inspiration. Phil also covered it here on May 22.

  10. seafoid on June 12, 2014, 11:15 am

    The problem with justifying Israeli behavior by what goes on in war is that innocent Jews are murdered in Brussels using the same justification.

    The problem with justifying force feeding because it is done in Guantanamo Bay is that the logic will also apply to Jews in the future.

  11. LuLu on June 12, 2014, 12:57 pm

    I really think they both teach each other the cruelty and agree behind closed doors how to be inhumane in their regimes..

  12. Bumblebye on June 12, 2014, 1:23 pm

    Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights has sent yet another letter to the Foreign Secretary, this one “urgent”:

    “As lawyers committed to the protection and promotion of Palestinian human rights, LPHR is deeply concerned at reports that the Israeli government is fast-tracking proposed legislation which would permit the force-feeding of Palestinian administrative detainees exercising a hunger-strike protest1. We consider the practices allowed by the proposed legislation would amount to a clear violation of the international law prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment. We subsequently request that the British government make strong and urgent representations to the Israeli government to halt passage of this manifestly dangerous bill.”

    And this about “administrative detention”, which the letter explains is under “Military Order 1226”:

    “Although administrative detention is permitted under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, it can only be used if it is necessary for reasons of security in exceptional cases of emergency, when there is no other possibility to prevent the danger posed by the detainee. International law sets a very high threshold for the use of administrative detention, in recognition that it is an extreme measure that violates the basic right to liberty and fundamental due process rights.
    Israeli authorities do not provide administrative detainees and their lawyers with meaningful information on the reasons for their detention, and are not given an opportunity to refute the suspicions against them. The Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, has noted that the “systematic and extensive reliance on classified information constitutes one of the most problematic aspects of administrative detention and contradicts the fundamental principle of
    due process.” Furthermore, many Palestinian detainees are held inside the State of Israel in flagrant breach of international law, which prohibits the transfer of detainees outside of occupied territory. The movement restrictions imposed on Palestinian residents from the Occupied Palestinian Territory have severely harmed the right of detainees to family visitation and to meet with their lawyers.”

  13. seafoid on June 12, 2014, 2:39 pm

    “Israel Medical Association says it could not protect member physicians outside country; Knesset bill would allow jails to ask court for permission to force-feed hunger-striking prisoner whose life is in danger.”

    IMA of course agrees with whatever the Knesset says.

  14. seafoid on June 12, 2014, 2:44 pm

    “Most Israelis don’t know, and don’t want to know, that in the name of natural, clear, and justified fear, they’ve become exactly the thing they fear, exactly what they are quick to accuse Palestinian terrorists of being: beasts completely devoid of passion or respect for human life, struggling for survival in the jungle, without the ability to think beyond their next meal.
    I’m not sure, but I think that most Israelis, on the margins of their awareness, actually do know that destroying every vestige of humanity is not the way to solve a conflict, or even to force an enemy to submit, but rather only a means to ensure an endless cycle of blood and hardship. This is too logical to be denied. But still.
    Knesset members Nachman Shai, Adi Kol, Yifat Kariv, Mickey Levy, Aliza Lavie, Ronen Hoffman, David Tsur, Elazar Stern and Meir Sheetrit (who was nearly elected president, and who had the support of the majority of Arab MKs) joined the gang from Habayit Hayehudi, along with Yariv Levin and Robert Ilatov, and voted for the bill permitting the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners. Most Israelis think these individuals are liberal, fair-minded centrist MKs. Most Israelis are wrong. ”

    And what is natural about the unwarranted fear Israelis have of Palestinians ?

    • wondering jew on June 12, 2014, 3:29 pm

      seafoid- I understand why the second intifada was fought and that more Palestinians than Israelis were killed, but I do believe that the fear engendered by that period is quite real and warranted and natural. You have to be taught to hate and fear and buses blowing up and restaurants blowing up will teach you that.

      • seafoid on June 12, 2014, 3:37 pm


        Zionism for better or worse chose the Middle East. The Palestinians are your neighbours.
        Sure the early 2000 bombings were traumatic but Israel is primed for violence which is why all the secular kids do their army service.

        When do you give up the fear ? It’s like when to plant a tree. The best time was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

        BTW I think what really scares Israelis is Palestinian rights.

      • wondering jew on June 12, 2014, 3:54 pm

        seafoid- This is how it works with you. You say something ridiculous. I criticize. Then you say something reasonable and don’t at all deal with the first statement.

        I agree that there is a choice that needs to be made and that should have been made 20 years ago.

        I agree with you that Zionism chose a path of violence (“Iron Wall” by Jabotinsky. Bayonets.) and that such a choice leads to consequences. But that’s not what you said. But half your statements are valid, maybe even 60%.

      • seafoid on June 12, 2014, 4:59 pm


        I think that Israeli fear is nurtured by the IDF system. They like the money flows. Remind me of the RUC in northern Ireland back in the day.

        I don’t see why Israelis should be afraid. Never tried peace either.
        Palestinians are just people, same as Jews.

      • wondering jew on June 12, 2014, 5:04 pm

        seafoid- It is nice to imagine a different past and a different present. Some people see things as they might be and ask why not? that’s good.

        Nietzsche said that if he was limited to what was and what is and could not dream of what could be that he wouldn’t be able to bear this life. So keep on imagining a world where everyone lives with respect for the other.

        And therefore it is good to call fear unnatural.

        Sorry for being in the present tense and not in the future tense.

      • Citizen on June 13, 2014, 7:18 am

        It’s always good to plant trees over destroyed Palestinian villages. Lots of stuff in the MW archives on that subject.

  15. seafoid on June 12, 2014, 5:10 pm

    The fear is part of the system of control, Yonah. It’s interesting to see Zionism at the edge- say Zochrot stuff on independence day. Can’t have deviations from the official line. And this dehumanizing Palestinians into the bogeypeople- it ultimately dehumanizes Jews. It’s really stupid. You are destined to share the land with them.

    I remember in Ireland in the 80s hearing Ian Paisley freaking out his Protestant supporters with stories about evil Papists. He eventually went into coalition with them. Life is like that.

    G-d works in very mysterious ways.

  16. German Lefty on June 12, 2014, 5:24 pm

    I just found this on AlterNet:
    5 Cruel Values Israel and America Share as Jailer and Executioners

    • just on June 13, 2014, 7:25 am

      Thanks for that GL.

      Great and depressing article by Alex.

    • Citizen on June 13, 2014, 7:41 am

      I guess that’s the infamous “Judeo-Christian values” I always hear American politicians peddle to the masses here in the good old USA?

      The US government really appreciates lessons in how to ape Israeli security methods, both domestically and abroad–gotta go with the practical science implementers who have those Palestinian lab rats to operate on. Tried and Tested Stuff, here ya go!

Leave a Reply