Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Palestinian Repression of Palestinians


Palestinian authorities are systematically mistreating and torturing Palestinians in detention, including critics and opponents, Human Rights Watch said today in a parallel report submitted jointly to the United Nations Committee Against Torture with the Palestinian rights group Lawyers for Justice

More than a year after the PA beat to death prominent activist and critic Nizar Banat while he was in custody and violently dispersed people demanding justice for his death, including rounding up scores for peaceful protesting, no one has been held to account. Prosecutors brought charges against 14 accused security officers, but critics say the authorities are moving too slowly and are biased, including in a June 21 decision by military prosecutors to release the accused for 12 days.

“More than a year after beating to death Nizar Banat, the Palestinian Authority continues to arrest and torture critics and opponents,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “Systematic abuse by the PA and Hamas forms a critical part of the repression of the Palestinian people.”

In the months that followed Banat’s death, PA police forces violently dispersed popular protests demanding justice and rounded up scores of people for peacefully protesting.

The death in custody of Banat and rounding up of demonstrators in the weeks that followed reflects the Palestinian authorities’ systematic practice of arbitrary arrest and torture with impunity, Human Rights Watch said. PA and Hamas security forces routinely taunt and threaten detainees, use solitary confinement and beatings, including whipping their feet, and force detainees into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, including hoisting their arms behind their backs with cables or rope, to punish and intimidate critics and opponents and elicit confessions, as Human Rights Watch and Lawyers for Justice lay out in their parallel report.  

Palestinian authorities have consistently failed to hold security forces accountable, as documented in the parallel report.

In 2021, the ICHR received 252 complaints of torture and ill-treatment and 279 of arbitrary arrest against PA authorities in the West Bank and 193 complaints of torture and ill-treatment and 97 of arbitrary arrest against Hamas authorities in Gaza. Hamas authorities have also executed 28 people in Gaza since seizing political control in June 2007, in a context in which  due process violations, coercion, and torture are prevalent, and have summarily executed scores of other people without any judicial process, often on accusations of collaboration with Israel.

Palestinian authorities should abide by the international human rights treaties they have acceded to and end grave abuses and endemic impunity by holding those responsible to account.

The parallel Human Rights Watch and Lawyers for Justice report also covers mistreatment and torture by Israeli authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and impunity for these abuses. Despite more than 1,300 complaints of torture filed with Israel’s Justice Ministry since 2001 stemming from acts allegedly carried out by Israeli authorities in Israel or the West Bank, including painful shackling, sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme temperatures, these complaints have only resulted in two criminal investigations and no indictments over the past 20 years, according to the Israeli rights group Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. As part of its duties under the Convention Against Torture to “prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction,” the State of Palestine should cease all security coordination with the Israeli army that contributes to facilitating torture and other grave abuses, and stop handing over Palestinians, as long as there remains a real risk of torture and other prohibited ill-treatment for those handed over, Human Rights Watch said.

“Many governments say they want to support the rule of law in Palestine and yet year after year continue to fund police forces that actively undermine it,” Shakir said. “Purported concerns over the fragility of Palestinian institutions and other tired excuses should no longer stand in the way. Donor governments should cut ties to abusive Palestinian police and security forces and center their Palestine and Israel policies on human rights.”

Palestine: Impunity for Arbitrary Arrests, Torture | Human Rights Watch (

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