Force feeding in Israel

Zohar Lederman1

1 Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119077.

In 2015, the Israeli Knesset passed the Force-Feeding Act that permits the director of the Israeli Prison Authority to appeal to the district court with a request to force-feed a prisoner against his expressed will. A recent position paper by top Israeli clinicians and bioethicists, published in Hebrew, advocates for force feeding by medical professionals. The paper presents several arguments to support its assertion.

In this presentation, I posit three interrelated questions:

  1. Do prisoners have a right to hunger strike?
  2. Should governing institutions force feed prisoners and/or is it ethical to force feed prisoners?
  3. Should healthcare professionals force feed prisoners?

I then focus on the first and third questions. I first briefly provide several arguments to support the right of Palestinian prisoners to hunger strike. Next, I critically review the arguments presented in the Israeli position paper, demonstrating that they are all misguided at best. Lastly, I briefly present arguments against force feeding by medical professionals, the most common (and strongest) one being the patients’ right to refuse treatment.


Zohar Lederman is a medical doctor and a bioethics PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore. His PhD focuses on the ethics of One Health. His other areas of interest include: end of life care, the dual loyalty dilemma, ethics of infectious diseases and public health ethics.

About the Association

The Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law (AABHL) was formed in 2009.

It encourages open discussion and debate on a range of bioethical issues, providing a place where people can ask difficult questions about ideas and practices associated with health and illness, biomedical research and human values.

The AABHL seeks to foster a distinctive Australasian voice in bioethics, and provide opportunities for international engagement through its membership, journal and conferences.

Members come from all the contributing humanities, social science and science disciplines that make up contemporary bioethics.

Many members have cross-disciplinary interests and all seek to broaden the dialogues in which all members of the wider community ultimately have an interest.

The AABHL is a supportive, creative and challenging community that provides a rich source of continuing academic refreshment and renewal.

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