OPT - The repressive practices by the Palestinian Authority’s security services against peaceful protests critical of the PA’s policies are deeply concerning, says the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
The latest in a series of protests was yesterday’s demonstration in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The PA’s reaction to protests is no less than a serious failure to abide by the international laws and treaties ratified by the Palestinian Authority, adds the non-profit watchdog.
Incidents of abuse and excessive use of force against protesters by the security services have been documented by Euro-Med Monitor’s team. The security services have cracked down on several demonstrations taking place on Friday afternoon in different cities of the West Bank.
One of the incidents was that of Jamil Karama, who was beaten during a Hebron demonstration by the security services on the head and face and other parts of the body while his wife was trying to stand in between.
A number of journalists filming the incident were also assaulted. Malik Jbari, a photographer, said he was beaten and arrested by the Palestinian security for hours after confiscating his phone for filming the attack on Jamil Karama and his wife.
Journalist Abdul Karim Msaytef was also arrested after he documented the security services’ attack on a demonstration in Ramallah, while youths threw stones at security guards preventing them from reaching the PA headquarters.
According to another testimony by journalist Assem Shenar, the security services in Nablus opened fire at Hisham Beshkar at the city’s roundabout, and armed men disguised in civilian clothing chased him, and then fired at journalist Shenar as well while he was documenting the incident.
Several demonstrations were staged in different cities of the West Bank following calls to express their opposition to the Israeli occupation. Hamas, the PA's rival, also called on its supporters to take part in demonstrations commemorating its founding yesterday.
Despite the conflicting narratives of the organizers of the demonstrations and the Palestinian Authority officials regarding the events, eyewitnesses said the security forces had been pre-equipped to rally near the locations of the demonstrations with sticks and weapons, especially in Hebron. The security forces also dressed in civilian clothes in the demonstration taking place in Nablus.
The security services’ assault on protesters in Hebron only happened after Hamas women first assaulted the security forces and called them names, said Hebron Gov., Maj. Gen. Jibreen Bakri.
The batons used to beat Hamas supporters were not violent, said Adnan al-Damairi, a spokesman for the security services.
The testimonies we have gathered and the videos we collected show no sign of protesters starting to assault the security services. But even if that did happen, the inhumane and brutal beating by the security men cannot be justified, said Sarah Pritchett, Euro-Med Monitor’s spokeswoman.
These protests are not the only ones suppressed by the PA’s security services. Throughout June and July 2018, the security services cracked down on protesters for demanding the lifting of the PA sanctions on Gaza.
These sanctions are aimed primarily at pressuring the Hamas de facto rule in Gaza but has severely affected the enclave’s population already suffering from a relentless Israeli blockade for well over 10 years.
Testimonies and videotapes also show the security services’ excessive use of force against protesters, violating their right to peaceful assembly. This use of force was indiscriminate, disproportionate and deliberate.
Khawla Alian was injured while participating in a June 13 demonstration in Ramallah that demanded the PA’s lifting of sanctions on Gaza. In the demonstration, masked members of the security services threw a sound bomb under her feet, resulting in a deep injury.
Mu'tasim Hamid and Mohammed Majid Hassan were also beaten after participating in the same demonstration. Members of the General Intelligence Service detained Hasan until dawn the next day and interrogated him about the reasons for his participation in the demonstration.
Suha Badran Dar Jbara has been held since November 3 in Jericho’s Central Prison until today. She was on an open hunger strike on November 22 in protest of her bad conditions.
Jbara's father said he was able to visit his daughter, who was clearly tortured. She was beaten with sticks on her hands and feet, deprived of sleep for three days in a row. Jbara said his daughter told him during the visit that the interrogators were making her watch some of the young detainees being tortured and that she could not sleep because of that.
An urgent investigation should start into these horrible incidents, said Sarah Pritchett, calling on the Palestinian Authority to stop arbitrary arrests, torture, and to immediately release the detainees on political grounds and to ensure the protection of Palestinians’ public freedoms, including their right to peaceful assembly.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on the Palestinian Authority to stop all forms of torture in its prisons and to abide by the guarantees of fair trials.
Euro-Med Monitor also calls on the Palestinian Authority to end its security services’ use of torture in prisons, especially during interrogations.