The Israeli parliament has passed a law that would permit the force-feeding of inmates on hunger strike.

The law, passed Thursday in the Knesset, allows a judge to sanction the force-feeding or administration of medical treatment if there is a threat to the inmate's life, even if the prisoner refuses.

Palestinians held in Israeli jails have held rounds of hunger strikes over recent years, protesting their detention. Many have been hospitalized and their failing health has caused tensions to flare among Palestinians. Israel fears that a hunger striking prisoner's death could trigger unrest.

Critics, including medical associations, say force-feeding is unethical. They say the law is political, meant to prevent violence sparked by a hunger striker's death rather than protect the prisoner's dignity and well-being.