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Israeli doctors refuse to force-feed hunger strikers

Doctors in Israel are refusing to back proposed legislation that would allow Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to be force-fed. The bill, proposed by the Home Front Defense Ministry, comes as at least 65 of the 290 striking detainees have been hospitalized since they stopped eating on April 24. The legislation would empower judges to sanction force-feeding if a detainee's life is perceived to be in danger. But the Israel Medical Association is urging physicians not to cooperate in the practice. "It goes against the DNA of the doctors to force treatment on a patient," said the IMA's Ziva Miral. "Force-feeding is torture, and we can't have doctors participating in torture."

The IMA also pointed out that the World Medical Association opposes the practice.  "We met on the subject with the Justice Ministry and made our position clear, and it's the same as the World Medical Association's," said IMA chair Dr. Leonid Eidelman. "Force feeding must be forbidden, as it's a form of torture and humiliation. We oppose it by all means." (The Independent, June 5; Haaretz, June 3)

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