Monday, 15 June 2015

Israel blocks visit of UN human rights envoy


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has blocked a visit to the Palestinian territories by a UN rights envoy, an official said Monday, just ahead of the publication of a United Nations report on last year's Gaza war.

It was the second time Makarim Wibisono, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been barred entry.

"We didn't allow this visit," which was to take place last week, foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP.

"Israel cooperates with all the international commissions and all rapporteurs, except when the mandate handed to them is anti-Israeli and Israel has no chance to make itself heard."

The UN Human Rights Council, to which Wibisono reports, has been conducting an investigation into the actions of both Israel and Palestinian militants during last year's conflict.

Its report is expected to be published in the coming days, and the council is scheduled to debate it on June 29.

The UN's human rights chief, speaking at the opening of the council's 29th session in Geneva on Monday, confirmed the publication was imminent.

"It is my hope the report will pave the way for justice to be done to all civilians who fell victim to the fighting last year, by holding to account those alleged to have committed grave and other serious violations of international humanitarian law," High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said. more

Israel cabinet approves bill to force feed prisoners


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli ministers approved a bill Sunday that would allow prisoners on hunger strike to be force fed if their life is in danger, sparking criticism from health experts and rights groups.

The cabinet's endorsement of the controversial bill was led by Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who said that prisoners observing a hunger strike, namely Palestinians, pose a "threat" to Israel.

"Alongside attempts to boycott and delegitimize Israel, hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel," Erdan said on his Facebook page.

The same bill was approved by the Israeli government last year and sent to parliament for debate but the Knesset was dissolved before it could start deliberating.

The bill was initially approved in June 2014 at the height of a mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners during which 80 were hospitalized.

Chairman of the Israeli Medical Association, Leonid Eidelman, slammed the bill, saying force feeding prisoners against their will is "unethical".

In a letter addressed to Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Eidelman also insisted that the IMA would "order doctors to act solely according to the rules of ethics, and not feed or nourish hunger strikers against their will." The Association for Civil Rights in Israel stressed that force feeding was forbidden. more