Beyond the Cusp

May 1, 2017

Barghouti Palestinian Hunger Strike and International Law

 

Most people have absolutely no idea what the International Law is concerning the treatment of prisoners who choose to stage a hunger strike. Most probably believe that it is the nation where the prisoners have declared a hunger strike responsibility to do everything possible to remedy the situation favorably. This would include caving to the demands of the prisoners if that is what was required. Obviously, these people have not figured this thing out and given it the depth of thought required. If caving to the demands was a required response, and if that is what was necessary to end a prisoner hunger strike, then there would be no prisoners anywhere as all any prisoner would need to do to be released is go on a hunger strike demanding their release and then wait for a couple of weeks and have some really intense hunger pangs. Then as their health became affected, they would be released in order to preserve their health, or at least their lives. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is if the prisoner has been determined to be of sound mind when making the decision, then any consequence of their hunger strike, including death, is on the prisoner and not the holding authority. The International Law does not even permit forced-feeding to keep prisoners alive; it actually forbids such considering forced-feeding as a form of torture which can be the basis of bringing charges against the offending government and nation. So, what exactly is the wording of the law? That can be found in the declaration of Tokyo: Declaration #6; which can be read below.


Declaration of Tokyo

International Law Concerning Prisoner Hunger Strikes

Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially. The decision as to the capacity of the prisoner to form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other independent physician. The consequences of the refusal of nourishment shall be explained by the physician to the prisoner.

 

This Tokyo Declaration means that if the initial physician had determined that the prisoner or prisoners who decide on a hunger strike did so while of sound mind and while not under any coercion, then a second and independent physician is required to also explain the consequences of their actions at each stage of the strike and as long as the prisoner continues demanding they continue their hunger strike, then they must be permitted to continue. Even should their action result in their deaths, they must be allowed to continue their hunger strike. There is an exception which would permit their being force-fed and that is that should they become unconscious, then they can be determined to no longer be of sound mind and thus unable to rationally insist on continuing their hunger strike and can be fed by whatever means are necessitated. Waiting for prisoners to fall unconscious before feeding them is extremely risky, as once they have lost consciousness they would be so close to death that bringing them back from the edge would be a delicate situation. The percentages for saving their lives would have fallen well below optimum and may have fallen to a point where the chances would be negligible.

 

The difficulty Israel faces is the same ideal which the Arabs throw in our faces at every opportunity with their chant of, “We love death as much as you love life and that is why we will defeat you.” To be honest, this argument has never quite made sense to us and in my case, I remember a quote attributed to General George Patton in the movie “Patton” and attributed to the General in some references where he was reputed to have said, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making some other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Apparently, the Arabs have decided to make that easier for Israel if their threat is to be taken literally. The truth is the Arab leadership loves life just as much as any Israeli, what they do not have much regard for are the lives of those they command. Arab commanders send others to die while Israeli officers are at the tip of the spear where their command to move forward is always, “Follow me,” as they lead out. The other side of the Israeli love of life is that we also value Arab lives even to include the hunger-striking prisoners. Israel was threatened of being brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity for torturing prisoners. Most people in the Western World have heard the claims that Israel tortures Arab prisoners but they have no idea what criminal definition of torture Israel is guilty of committing. Under the Declaration of Tokyo, forced-feeding of a prisoner, even to save their lives, is defined as torture. The life of the prisoner is presumably of no concern for the holding governance; it is on the prisoner if they lose their life due to a hunger strike. Under International Law, the death of a hunger-striking prisoner is considered a suicide and not the concern of the holding government. Israel cannot accept such a trivial treatment of a human life, even the life of a hunger-striking prisoner.

 

Marwan Barghouti, arch terrorist serving five life terms for only five of the dozens of Israelis murdered by his bombs and terror plans as well as likely hundreds injured, many horrifically suffering from crippling effects of these attacks

Marwan Barghouti, arch terrorist serving five life terms
for only five of the dozens of Israelis murdered by his
bombs and terror plans as well as likely hundreds injured,
many horrifically suffering from crippling effects of these attacks

 

The whole situation is considered a win-win by the Arab terror organizations which is why there are three or four hunger strikes called virtually every year. They realize there are only two results which can come from their hunger strike. They realize that there is little if any chance that they will be allowed to die as a result of their choices and actions. This means either they will have their demands met which usually amounts to several of the strikers being freed and other concessions. This result often comes when nations of the world demand that Israel not force-feed the prisoners and ties their demands to threats to take Israel before the ICC or the ICJ with charges of torture by force-feeding prisoners against their will. Simply put in everyday words, usually at the behest of the Arab League and numerous Arab governments, through behind the scenes communications, call for numerous European nations or the European Union to threaten Israel with charges of preserving human lives of their sworn enemies and often terrorist lives through the torture of forced-feeding them against their will. Prisoner rights groups and the family of nations pressed for and got the decision that the forced-feeding of prisoners was torture such that International Law made it punishable before the community of nations thus leaving only one means for a civilized people to save the lives of hunger striking prisoners, surrender to their demands. Before the decision that forced-feeding was torture there were two choices for governments, they could give in to the demands or they could force-feed the prisoners while it was still safe and would guarantee their survival. With the removal of feeding as a solution, there still remain two choices which save the life of the prisoner, giving in to their demands or waiting for them to pass into unconsciousness and then feeding them. The waiting for unconsciousness is a very risky means as some prisoners will die at the point of losing consciousness, others will be able to be saved and for far too many, the probabilities for survival would be very slim. None of these options are acceptable to Israel, not to her government and not to the vast majority of the people, even including the ones who might act tough and say, let them die, who if they had to make the call they would not allow them to die and would choose life.

 

The prisoners know that when they start to refuse food then either their demands will be met or Israel will face the screams across the globe from leftists and the anti-Semites that Israel is guilty of torture and is once again torturing their prisoners. The accusations continue and are louder every time there is a prisoner who is force-fed. Torture, torture they cry with the prisoner rights groups up in protest supported by numerous others from left wing groups plus there are the Soros groups who live to accuse Israel of crimes, BLM, BDS, pro-Palestinian groups, anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and all the rest of the anti-Semitic groups, European nations and their funded NGO’s, B’Tselem, the numerous peace groups and the list is nearly endless. Torture, torture ringing across the globe and the sun never sets on the various protests against Israel for saving lives. Imagine the outcry were Israel to permit just one hunger striking prisoner to die. The world screamed and demanded investigations for close to a year, some still ringing that bell, when one prisoner died from a stroke. The claims were that Israel somehow brought on his stroke, exactly how was never stated, it was just accepted that Israel not only could cause a prisoner to suffer a stroke but that Israel actually had caused the Arab prisoner to suffer a stroke. Israel faces three choices which range from bad to unthinkable and all but one will raise instant worldwide and vehemently loud demonstrations. Should Israel feed the prisoner the screams of torture rise up. Should Israel obey International Law and allow the prisoner the right to dignity and die for their cause, the screams of murderers rise up. Only if Israel surrenders to their demands will Israel not be derided before the world, the only result of giving in to their demands will be an immediate new strike demanding even deeper concessions and another after that and another and another on and on. Where would that end? The end result would be Israel having to return to choosing feeding the prisoners and facing torture charges or not feed them and allow International Law to work to its final end result and the prisoners start to die and facing murder charges. Israel is in a no win situation and the Arab terrorists understand this so they hold hunger strikes and wait to scream that Israel is a monster and tortures prisoners or murders prisoners. Israel will choose accusations of torture by forced-feeding the hunger strikers. Sometimes doing the right thing and deciding on the side of life is difficult because we live in a strange and often cruel world but Israel will always choose life. This does not mean Israel will capitulate to demands but it does mean that Israel will risk the accusations of torture if that is what the world defines preserving human lives when that choice presents itself. Fortunately, most Israeli physicians also side with life and will claim that any prisoner pressing a hunger strike to the point where it will likely cause permanent damage is a decision which is proof of a lack of sanity and thus permits forced-feeding. The world does not agree, they want Israel to permit the hunger-striking prisoners to die as demanded by International Law such that they can then instead of having to settle for claiming that the Israeli forced-feeding is torture to Israel is murdering prisoners. Where is sanity, we ask you, where is sanity?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 23, 2017

Well Here We Go Again with Another Hunger Strike

 

We are back talking about arch terrorist, suicide bomb planner, bombing specialist, and convicted terrorist of five counts of murder serving five life terms plus an additional forty years for his planning terrorist strikes should he manage to get around the five life sentences and recent New York Times Editorialist, Marwin Barghouti. He has decided to make hay on the stomachs of his fellow prisoners by calling for a mass hunger strike. He has done this regularly almost like clockwork ever approximately five to six years. He is right on schedule; so, at least we can allow him to claim punctuality, but who cares. Usually he would get a strong following and in the past has extracted senior standing in the PLO and won a seat on the PLO Central Committee taking first place in receiving the largest vote count all through his antics in prison. Leftist around the world even including Israelis such as MKs Yossi Beilin, Meir Sheetrit, and Shimon Peres along with European leftists and other internationalist leftist around the world all believe that Marwin Barghouti would make a wonderful successor to Mahmoud Abbas and proclaim that his leadership would be far more reasonable and pro-peace. Obviously, these leftists are doing what their kind do best, ignoring reality and dreaming how wonderful things would be if only they would follow their dreams and ignore reality. Marwin Barghouti has given the world a taste of what the Palestinian Authority (PA) would act should he lead them to statehood when he declared, “After we attain a Palestinian State, there will be greater things for which to strive… There is no room for more than one state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.” Well, that sure sounds like someone the Israelis could make peace with as long as continued struggle, terrorism and war is their hope for the future because Barghouti sure does not see a Palestinian State as the finality the leftist claim he would but shares Abbas’s and Arafat’s before him that the realizations of statehood is simply a step towards the complete eradication of the Jewish State of Israel. Let us simply place the idea of Marwin Barghouti as the next great leader of the PA exactly where it belongs and continue, toss it directly in the trashcan.

 

This time Barghouti’s hunger strike merely gathered one out of six, when the majority of the prisoners realized that his call was simply an attempt at personal aggrandizement and would likely not serve their purposes. The reality of these hunger strikes reveals that a fair number of the prisoners who claim to be striking still eat in private and do not strictly commit to the actual hunger strike completely. But the reality does not matter simply because as long as there has been a declared hunger strike there are those throughout the world, particularly across Europe, the Arab and Muslim Worlds and at the United Nations who will turn on Israel like vicious hyenas into a dead carcass. Whatever is on the prisoner’s list of demands will suddenly become the cause celeb for hundreds of thousands of leftists worldwide and they will spring into action with demonstrations, petitions, debates in the halls of power, meetings in the United Nations General Assembly denouncing Israeli apparent mistreatment of prisoners denying them such basics and the Human Right NGO’s will erupt in manners beyond reason. Demands such as, allow me to list a few choice demands: Free cell phones for all prisoners. Permission for prisoners to be photographed with their families every three months (for the purpose of posting on social media so they can start another uproar on a regular basis). Admission of children and grandchildren under the age of 16 on every visit (imagine the great pictures these children will add for further ammunition). Closing what is called “the Ramle Prison Hospital” because it cannot provide the necessary care (They want a hospital outside the prison). Performing surgery quickly as is done in the case of emergencies (Let the Israelis wait for their turn, as they do interminably now, but not convicted terrorists). Freeing seriously ill prisoners as well as those who are handicapped or suffering from life-threatening diseases (No matter what their crime or sentence and regardless of if they are expected to improve and be fine). More consideration for prisoners being transported in a “bosta” (“bosta” is the prison vehicle used for transport having cage wire separating the back seat without door and window handles on the inside of the back seat but they want to sit next to the driver where there is a door that can be opened, not in a locked cab behind the driver, what could possibly go wrong here?). More satellite channels, adding those that the inmates want (which includes Hamas and other terror instigating channels). Putting an end to administrative detention (This would force Israel to try every case allowing the accused to demand to question their accuser which would reveal undercover operatives which would end all intelligence gathering). Reinstatement of the Hebrew University (they are dissatisfied with the Arab Universities they are currently permitted to take courses from). And putting an end to the policy of solitary confinement for any offense. Nothing could possibly go wrong from meeting these demands and these were the more “interesting” third with the remainder can be seen at the end of the article The terrorist hunger strike comes with demands by one of our favorite editorialists, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, who we would like to thank for the demands list and his commentary which was of paramount assistance.

 

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

 

Already the smuggled cell phones are a major problem to Israeli officials. Many inmates have actually entered into ballots to run for election and actually won seats in the parliaments. Some arrange to join leadership roles in terrorist units and actually assist in the planning of terrorist attacks. This includes prisoners who are serving sentences for planning terrorist attacks. The prisoners are able to have a cell phone smuggled in by means often of one prisoner who is permitted a phone giving the phone into the train which transports these phones through channels until it reaches the selected prisoner who is not permitted a cell phone. Through this manner, the phone reaches the terror planner and he places in it a different SIM card for each call making identification difficult discarding the card once it has been used. This is how they are able to make detection and determining who has the illegal phone more difficult all while planning terror attacks against Israeli citizens from within presumably secure cellblock. They have voted in elections from prison but not since 2005 as Abbas has cancelled all elections since then. The hunger strike is ridiculous in that there are no prisoners in any prison system where the prisoners as a whole have the freedoms and liberties enjoyed in the prisons where Israel retains their Palestinian prisoners. Prisoner in other prisons, including the Jews in the other Israeli prisons, should be making hunger strikes demanding the conditions the Palestinians enjoy in Israeli prisons. But, this will not prevent any of the world’s leftists from pretending that things are absolutely abominable in the Israeli prisons despite all evidence to the contrary.

 

All of this leaves out one more side of the terrorists and their place, or more accurately, their families place in Palestinian society. Terrorists who successfully carry out attacks end in one of two results, they are arrested or they refuse to surrender usually attacking the security forces and they die. Either result the follow-up depends on the measured levels of success observed by the leadership of the Palestinian Prison Committee. Their position have them determining the amount which is to be paid to the terrorist’s family in proportion to the number of Israelis, preferably Jews, they managed to murder with an allowance for those injured to a lesser extent. This prisoner committee also pays all the prisoners a salary proportionally to the length of their sentence. They use funds from the United Nations, European Union, European nations, Canada, and the United States which make up a general fund. These pensions received by these families for the murder of Israelis are higher than the salaries one can earn working almost any job. This is another form of incitement as upon hearing how martyrs are respected, their families given such pensions, and the benefits which go to the families of shahids, too many teenaged Palestinians decide that they will act on the incitement and gain great treatment for their families including great financial security and go out trying to stab as many Israelis as they are able and knowing that should they die, their family will make even higher rewards, they even choose death over surrender and living. This is a sad situation which will not change under Mahmoud Abbas nor would it change under Marwan Barghouti. We would like to provide a little context about the situation of the Palestinians inside Israel, Judea and Samaria as well as in Gaza as compared to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Arab World as a whole by a Jordanian citizen Mudar Zahran who will give an amazing amount of context and realism. We advise sitting down for this as you may end up gob-smacked.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 17, 2014

Jerusalem Protests Over Force-Feeding Hunger Strike Prisoners

I was blessed to spend yesterday with a group touring Jerusalem (יְרוּשָׁלַיִם) and part of my visit took me in the vicinity of the Knesset Building. As we was about a block away making our way to take pictures and hear a presentation on the large Menorah, which is the official National Symbol of Israel, we passed one of the protest groups which one usually can expect to run into in the government center of any democratic and free nation. The current protest is against the forced-feeding of prisoners being held in Israeli detention facilities. The hunger-striking prisoners includes a mix of detainees and prisoners with most of them falling into one of three categories; convicted terrorists where their crimes span from attempting to perform a terrorist strike all the way to multiple murders, political prisoners who are mostly terrorist organizers who have committed any of a number of actions in support of terror, and security prisoners who have committed acts against Israel attempting to alter her political institutions and undermine the elected government. The reasons behind the hunger strikers vary depends on which group of such prisoners each hunger-striking prisoner chooses to commit themselves to. One of the main reasons currently given is to get one particular Hamas prisoner released from solitary confinement.

 

Be that as it may, the question before the Knesset is about whether to force-feed these prisoners once their health has deteriorated sufficiently that they have been transferred to a hospital. It currently appears that the legislation has sufficient support to pass providing there are no drastic changes of opinions. The main groups opposing the forced-feeding are many of the physicians including the Israeli Chairman of the Medical Association Dr. Leonid Idelman. Dr. Idelman has written a letter for all physicians who have hunger-striking prisoners under their care and has instructed them to choose not to force-feed these inmates. He wrote, “In recent weeks, many dozens of hunger striking prisoners have been transferred from the Israel Prisons Service to the hospital wards nationwide, and their number is growing daily. As you know, treating hunger strikers is a special challenge that the doctors are as yet unfamiliar with. The situation is unusual and requires unconventional measures.” Dr. Idelman adds referencing a recent conference which addressed this “complex situation” with Senior Officials from the Health Ministry, Hospital Directors and Assistant Deputies, along with ward directors, heads of scientific unions in the IMA and others participating where it was concluded, “A procedure of force feeding hunger strikers despite their objection involves a real danger to their health and is opposed to the overriding rules of non-maleficence and maintaining the patient’s autonomy over his body, upon which the doctors’ ethical code is based. Force feeding is forbidden in the ethical rules of the Medical Association, and those accepted worldwide, including Tokyo Declaration 1495 and Malta Declaration 1441 of the International Medical Association.”

 

Well, let me be clear, I have no reason to doubt Dr. Idelman when he quotes such esteemed issuances such as the Tokyo Declaration 1495 and Malta Declaration 1441, but I am certain there has to be something less dated and results from modern precedents. As it turns out, there are such issuances with the most recent being convened to discuss the forced-feeding of hunger-strikers in Guantanamo Prison, an American facility just off the southern tip of Florida on the Cuban Islands. The consensus was that such actions are forbidden unless two physicians determine that the prisoner, patient according to rulings, is determined to no longer be able to choose whether they should receive nourishment or not. Included in the determining factors to be weighed is the threat to the patient’s life or the determination of imminent death. The boards also realized that there could be cases where the patient never lost consciousness and refused food to the end and as a result dies due to their hunger-strike. According to the rulings where this has been discussed, every board I could find lays the blame for the prisoner’s death resulting from their choice to commit to a hunger strike lies with the prisoner and not the physicians or the nation holding the hunger-striking prisoner.

 

Now this is where the real fun begins. Let us simply take the few dozen demonstrators I saw about one block from the Knesset building carrying signs with most in Hebrew or Arabic but some of the largest signs were in bold red English letters. One can only wonder for whom the English letters were intended. Could it be their friends in America and the English speaking world which includes much of Europe or were they aimed at the local population many of which speak Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, French, Farsi, and virtually every other language in the world other than English. We know that those signs were for the international market, particularly CNN, FOX News, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC and the rest of the international press. The real question is how long after a single hunger-striking prisoner managed to remain in control and starved themselves to death before those protest signs demanding that the prisoners’ rights be observed and their hunger-strike remain under their wishes and equating forced-feeding with torture were swapped out declaring the Israeli physicians and prison officials along with the usual Knesset and government officials including especially Prime Minister Netanyahu as murderers and insisting they be brought to trial before the Hague International Criminal Court on charges of prisoner abuse and human rights violations. The Israeli government is facing simply another lose-lose situation where no matter which path they choose, they are going to be condemned. If any single prisoner dies from lack of nourishment, then they were obligated to preserve this prisoner’s life and to have force-fed them but as long as they are alive they must obey the wishes of the prisoner and not force-feed them come whatever. So, basically the Israeli officials, government, physicians and everyone else involved in this situation must decide, do I go against international law and feed these prisoners to at the very least a sustenance level in order to cause them not physical harm and face charges of torturing them or do I allow them to waste away and die because that is their expressed desire and once they die face charges of inhumane treatment and murder warrants be sworn against me by much of Europe? Which would you choose?

 

On a more somber note, the three abducted Israeli teenage children, Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, are still missing and the manhunt continues with the radius under suspicion continues to widen. While in Jerusalem the group visited the Kotel and the Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall which is somewhat more appropriate at this time, where we all offered up prayers in private. There is a tradition of placing special prayer which we desire Heavenly assistance onto small strips of paper and wedging them into the Wall. My prayers on my piece of paper were for the health, safety and speedy return of these youths unharmed none the worse for wear. I also included a few other thoughts and opened my prayers with a short Hebrew phrase of praise to G0d. It is odd the feeling one gets when attempting to write even simple words while in the vicinity of such a holy place as the Western Wall which is literally a few tens of meters from where the Holy of Holies, the inner Sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was placed and where no mortal man would tread unless they were the Cohen Gadol, and even he feared for his life when treading within the one day each year he was required to enter this inner sanctum, was located during the times of the First and Second Temples. You find you are nearly paralyzed and frozen out from choosing mere words and you have to concentrate and focus one’s thoughts and slowly your note takes shape. Meanwhile, all your thoughts are known on High and this is the real and actual note which is received. Now if only my thoughts are able to convey the hurt which has fallen across all Israel with so many sharing the grief as if these young boys, Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, belonged to our own families. And once they are returned we will all celebrate because then we all will feel as if our own family has again been made whole.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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