Thursday, 30 July 2015

Israel passes law allowing force feeding of prisoners

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The Israeli parliament approved Thursday a law allowing prisoners on hunger strike facing death to be force fed, a spokesman said, sparking criticism from rights groups and medical experts.

The law, which seeks to prevent imprisoned Palestinian prisoners from pressuring Israel by refusing food, was initially approved in June 2014 at the height of a mass hunger strike of Palestinian detainees, during which dozens were hospitalized.

While the law does not specifically mention Palestinians, Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who led the legislation, said it was necessary since "hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel."

The law, which passed by 46 votes to 40, "will be used only if a doctor determines that the continued hunger strike will create an immediate risk to the life of a prisoner or long-term damage to his health," David Amsalem of the ruling Likud party said.

A Knesset press statement said a court will have to review the "prisoner’s mental state, the dangers of force-feeding via a feeding tube and its invasiveness, the prisoner’s stance on the matter and other considerations."

The court may grant requests to force feed if the prisoner is at risk of doing irreversible damage to their body, or endangering their life.

The statement said that Israeli officials must have used "all means at their disposal" to persuade the prisoner to willing ending their strike before resorting to force-feeding.

But opposition members decried the new measure, with the Joint List party criticizing "a law to torture Palestinian prisoners, aimed at uprooting their legitimate struggle".

Left-wing Hadash party member Dov Khenin said the law was"cruel, dangerous and unnecessary,”a Knesset press release said. more

Daily electricity in Gaza expected to nearly double over next 2 days

Increased levels of fuel expected to enter Gaza over the next two days will nearly double the amount of electricity provided to the strip's residents, officials said Wednesday.

Around 900,000 liters of fuel will be be pumped into the Gaza Strip's power station over Wednesday and Thursday, the head of the Palestinian energy authority Omar Kittaneh said.

The fuel, paired with fuel entering through Egypt, will allow the station to increase productivity to 80 megawatts daily, meaning that Gazans will receive around 18 hours of electricity per day, Kittaneh added.

Kittaneh said the increase was possible after Egypt agreed to allow Qatari-funded fuel which has been held Egypt since 2012 to enter Gaza Strip. In 2012, Egypt stopped pumping Qatari-funded fuel to the Gaza Strip after Egyptian authorities accused the Hamas movement of aiding attacks in the neighboring Sinai peninsula.

Qatar had funded 20 million liters of fuel in 2012 for Gaza. Around half of the fuel entered the strip while the remainder has been held Egypt's Suez Canal, Kittaneh said. more