Physicians Try To End Palestinian Hunger Strike
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel: Also IPS Doctors are placing pressure on prisoners to end strike by disseminating misleading medical information
A letter that arrived at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s offices, via the “Palestinian Prisoners’ Society”, includes a written appeal in Arabic by the IPS (Israeli Prison Services) to the “security prisoners”, that explains in detail the health problems that can arise as a result of a hunger strike. The letter includes misleading medical information, in order to break the prisoners’ will and cause them to end the strike. Similarly, in the letter the prisoners are threatened that they will be force-fed against their will, even though this is against medical ethics.
Amongst other things, the IPS says in the letter:
Refusal to eat, even for a very short period, can cause problems to the body’s various systems.
As a result of the strike, there is a great risk of developing infectious diseases.
A hunger strike, even for a very short can lead to sexual dysfunction that can be irreversible.
All of these claims are not true and have no basis in medical research or in other cases of hunger strikes around the world.
It is clear that the IPS is doing all it can force them to end the strike. The IPS is misusing its power and using the fact that the prisoners partaking in the strike are isolated and cannot dismiss or check the information they receive through another source. Particularly disturbing is the fact that the letter is signed by the medical section of the IPS, meaning that the IPS doctors, who are treating the prisoners, are allowing for medical information that has no basis in reality to be given over to the people they are medically responsible for. This behavior is in defiance of medical ethics and the physicians’ oath that demands that the doctor’s first and foremost responsibility is to his/her patients.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel again reminds that one of the most important factors in caring for the well-being of the strikers and bringing the strike to an end without prisoners or guards being harmed is a relationship based on mutual trust between the doctor and the strikers. Clearly, the support the IPS doctors give to the scare tactics being used by the IPS prevent building such a relationship.
Even though the chances of receiving clearance are not high, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel again offers independent doctors to the IPS to treat the prisoners partaking in the strike, as recommended by international organization in the event of a hunger strike.