Middle East Section
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
In 2015 the Israeli parliament passed the Force-Feeding Act, allowing the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strikes. Local discussions over force-feeding emerged in reaction to a massive strike of 1600 Palestinian political prisoners in 2012, and legislation began in 2014 during the strike of 80 Palestinian prisoners.
The two consecutive Israeli Ministers of Public Security who advocated for the legislation declared that the recurring strikes pose a security threat to the state. Both explicitly stated that the purpose of this law is to stifle Palestinian prisoners’ resistance. But state attempts to legalize and practice force-feeding were met with resistance from doctors.
This paper looks into various solidarity networks of physicians in the power struggle between medical professionals and the Israeli state. I examine doctors’ call for conscientious objection, and the moral and political justifications they employed. I analyze the acts of three networks of doctors: (1) the Israeli Medical Association, which invoked ideas of universal medical ethics and global networks of professional solidarity in resistance to the legislation; (2) Civil society organizations, led by Physicians for Human Rights, which advocated for prisoners’ political rights; and (3) Palestinian physicians with Israeli citizenship who resisted in national solidarity with their non-citizen compatriots.