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Palestinian leaders call for 'week of rage' as Israel explores force feeding hunger strikers

May 6, 2017 3:12 P.M. (Updated: May 8, 2017 7:37 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian leaders of the mass hunger strike that entered its 20th day on Saturday have called for a “week of rage” against the Israeli occupation, in response to reports that Israeli authorities were seeking to bring foreign doctors to Israel to force feed the hunger strikers, as Israeli doctors have aligned themselves with international ethics on force feeding that prohibits doctors from carrying out the act.

"Our people should unleash their anger and clash uninterruptedly with the Israeli occupation at seam zones," the prisoners' leadership said in a statement, referring to unilaterally declared zones around Israel’s separation wall where Palestinians are not permitted to enter.

The statement, which was conveyed by the Media Committee of the Freedom and Dignity Strike -- a joint committee formed by the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) and Palestinian Committee for Prisoners' Affairs -- also called upon the Palestinian people to "blockade Israeli embassies all over the world and continue to organize rallies and sit-ins and to crowd in sit-in tents in Palestinian cities and villages."

"Any attempt to force feed any hunger-striking prisoner will be treated as an attempt to execute prisoners. We will turn these prisons into battle fields with our bodies, armed with our will and determination. We count on our people, along with the Arab and Islamic nations, and all the free people of the world to stand by our side," the prisoners' added.

The statement also urged the unions of Palestinian and Arab doctors to launch a worldwide campaign warning Israeli doctors of the consequences of "involvement in the crime of force feeding prisoners."

Before the strike was launched, Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered for the establishment of a military hospital to ensure that hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners were not transferred to civilian hospitals -- which have so far refused to force feed hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.

While the Israeli Supreme Court recently decided force feeding hunger-striking prisoners was constitutional, Israeli doctors have sided with internationally accepted medical ethics that regard the practice as a form of torture.

Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun warned that it was “highly possible” that Erdan’s field hospital proposal was “an attempt to impose mass force feeding on striking Palestinian prisoners outside of the civilian medical framework.”

Head of the Palestinian Commitee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said on Saturday that “any doctor of any nationality that takes part in force-feeding hunger-striking prisoners” would be legally pursued.

Qaraqe said that applying force feeding was a crime and jeopardized the lives of prisoners, adding that the participation of any doctor in force feeding violates international laws and ethics, citing the 1991 Declaration of Malta adopted by the World Medical Assembly, which specifically stated that force feeding is not ethically acceptable when dealing with hunger strikers, even when the goal is to provide assistance to their health conditions.

He called upon all countries not to send doctors to Israel to take part in the force feeding.

Initially called for by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi and other Fatah-affiliated prisoners, Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have since joined the strike.The hunger strikers have denounced the torture, ill treatment, and medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- which is only permitted under international law in extremely limited circumstances.

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released on Saturday by Palestinian organizations.

According to prisoners' rights organization Addameer, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of March.
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