by Dan Margalit
Hunger strikes have become a common tool to pressure Israel into not defending itself.
Under the guise of respecting humanitarian values, the enemies of Israel are working to weaken its ability to deal with the terrorist stabbing attacks perpetrated by young Palestinians. On Saturday evening, Channel 10 presented the simplistic question of whether it was possible a day earlier to reduce the shots fired at a would-be terrorist who flashed a knife at Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. That's the effect of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot making -- albeit correct -- statements about the ethics of warfare, but in a context that made it seem like the IDF wasn't taking care to observe them.
Indeed, if two days before that someone had been more suspicious and quick on the draw, the murder of a 21-year-old Jew who was innocently buying bread at a supermarket would have been prevented. But if that had happened, someone would have piped up with criticism of the pre-emptive shooting, because no Jew would have been hurt.
Enemies of Israel's defense system are launching a double attack on it: one is the hostile Swedish school of thought; and the other is political pressure on Israel to back off in light of a Palestinian prisoner's hunger strike. The pressure is effective, and as far as the Palestinians are concerned -- legitimate. But Israel has found itself in political, moral, and public relations trouble because of the lack of clear rules.
Hunger strikes have become a common phenomenon. They will continue, and Israel should make it unequivocally clear that this will be its approach:
• Any hunger strike will be cause to examine the justice of the administrative detention, which is always a problematic move.
• Security officials will explain to hunger strikers the damage they are doing to their health, which could be permanent, but will not force them to eat. During this time, no negotiations will be held. The opposite -- negotiations can be conducted only at a time when the prisoner is not hunger striking.
• When doctors determine that the hunger striker is on the verge of a life-threatening collapse, they will force-feed him or her. This is the wisest, most Jewish and humane interpretation of the sanctity of life, and it's more important than any political struggle or demonstration.
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