Beyond the Cusp

May 6, 2012

Israeli Compassion Leads to Mass Prisoner Hunger Strikes

Israel had arrested Khader Adnan on December 17, 2010, for suspicion of terror activity and began to hold him in administrative detention. His remand was approved under the basis of intelligence data indicating he is a threat to Israel’s national security. He subsequently went on a hunger strike threatening to starve himself to death if Israel refused to grant his release. His attorney appealed his administrative detention order to Israel’s Supreme Court. Khader Adnan had carried his hunger strike for sixty-six days and agreed to end his protest after Israel capitulated and agreed not to extend his detention and release him when his initial term expires. Needless to say, this act of kindness was immediately seized upon as a weakness of the Israeli government and its people by the Palestinian prisoners who immediately began a mass hunger strike demanding they all be released. Adding to the theatrics, a number of Palestinian civilians living in the Palestinian Authority controlled area have now joined the prisoner hunger strike in order to make a sympathetic plea in the media claiming Israeli intransigence has forced them to this extreme. The cry is if only Israel would be compassionate and release every Palestinian prisoner then everyone will be able to eat again but if Israel refuses to release the prisoners, then they are causing the death of countless prisoner and innocent Palestinians.

One might posit the proposal that the Israeli government could order the feeding of the prisoners through feeding tubes against their will. Believe it or not, that is forbidden by international laws. In Article 6 of the 1975 World Medical Association Tokyo Declaration it states that doctors can undertake forced-feeding under certain restricted rules but must first attain an agreement with the diagnosis from a second, independent physician. It states: “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.” The most recent ruling by the World Medical Association Can be found in a release titled Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers.

The obvious problem for any country or jurisdiction which is holding a prisoner for cause and the prisoner takes upon themselves a hunger strike with the expressed insistence that no effort be made to supply sustenance even to the point of their death is that the international rules explicitly state that those who hold jurisdiction over the prisoner are forbidden from taking any actions to force-feed or otherwise give aid to prevent the prisoner’s demise. It is made abundantly clear that force feeding is a kind of degrading, inhumane treatment on an equivalent scale to torture. The only solace the imprisoning state may take from these rulings is they are relieved from any legal responsibility if the prisoner should expire from their voluntary hunger-strike. I would guess this is only fair since the state is forbidden to take actions to prevent the prisoner from the fatal consequences of their hunger-strike but in the long run the media will not be as forgiving and neither will the general reaction of the world’s public. What is a state to do when a dangerous prisoner such as an avowed terrorist instigates a hunger strike with the stated intention of starvation unto death if not released? Those holding the prisoner are forbidden from taking any steps to force-feed the inmate or take other steps to prevent their physical deterioration even to death but will be condemned as evil, treacherous, inhuman, malicious monsters on a scale equal to some of the worst villains of all of history, think Rome’s Emperor Caligula.

Israel avoided this end result by not renewing the remand to hold Khader Adnan in further administrative detention. What are they to do now that virtually every Palestinian terrorist they currently are holding serving sentences for murder, performing acts of terror and various other criminal acts? Adding Palestinian civilians who the Palestinian Authority will make certain are covered daily with constant media scrutiny showing the evil results of the Israelis and their inhuman response to this tragic theater being staged. Israel could take steps to have the necessary two doctors perform medical checkups on the prisoners and produce a diagnosis that due to their weakened state they are no longer rational and no longer possess good judgment thus they can be force-fed. This would not do anything for the civilians on display in Ramallah or wherever the Palestinians are holding their hunger theater, but it would assure that no prisoners would die under Israeli care. What would Hamas, Fatah, and the PFLP (Palestinians for the Liberation of Palestine) going to do, go in front of the press and their cameras and complain that Israel will not allow the Palestinian terrorists and criminals held in Israeli prisons to starve themselves to death as is called for under international law. Would the world actually swallow the line that Israel had broken international law by giving sustenance to prisoners forcing an end to their hunger-strike and making them remain among the living against their will? You know what? I am willing to bet that if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas et al complained to the press that Israel had mistreated prisoners in their care by keeping them alive against their wishes, many around this world are simply so far gone in their hatred of Israel and/or Jews that there would be a great gnashing of teeth and proclamations of displeasure calling on the United Nations to sanction this despicable act perpetrated by Israel, saving prisoners from their own suicidal wishes. And the United Nations would take a vote in the General Assembly and denounce Israel right along with the United Nations Human Rights Council. The world really has gone beyond the cusp.

Beyond the Cusp

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