Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) said Tuesday that the state of Israel will have to find doctors who will be willing to enforce the force-feeding law that the government approved this week. The law would make it possible to force feed prisoners on hunger strike when their lives are in danger, if a judge has authorized the action.
Despite opposition by the Israel Medical Association, Shaked told Army Radio, the law would be passed and enforced. “If a doctor does not want to perform this, we do not force any doctor to do this," she assured the interviewer. "However, when a prisoner tries to starve himself to death, there is not much difference between this and a situation in which a prisoner tries to hang himself. In such cases – the guard has to go into his cell and save his life.”
Shaked said that similar laws exist in Australia and some states in the US, Germany and other western states, “and in those places, there is no need for a judicial decision – an administrative decision is enough.”
Shaked said that Israel must not allow itself to be blackmailed by prisoners. Most of the security prisoners who go on hunger strike do not want to die, she said, but until now, there was a tendency in some cases to surrender to hunger-striking prisoners' demands in order to stop their strike. From now on, she said, Israel will not give in to hunger strikers.
In response to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who said that Israel should take an example from former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's refusal to force-feed IRA hunger strikers, she noted that Thatcher wound up giving in to those prisoners' demands after several of them died.
Army Radio's interviewer asked Shaked for her opinion about Culture Minister Miri Regev's statement to artists' representatives with whom she met, according to which Likud received 30 MKs in the last elections and the Left “received only 20 MKs,” and actor Oded Kotler's statement that the 30 MKs represented “grass eating beasts.”
"Kotler's statements were embarrassing, and expressed arrogance and demagoguery,” she stated, “and he did well to apologize for it.” The sentence that Miri Regev said should also not have been said, she added, but in the end, “one has to decide where to draw the line.” Regarding the threat to withdraw funding fro a theater troupe whose director refused to appear in the Jordan Valley, Regev's decision has to be respected, Shaked opined.