Palestinian Authorities Routinely Torture Critics

Following a two-year investigation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) have now published their report about the behaviour of the Palestinian authorities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Based on interviews with 147 people, and focused on 86 different cases, the report reveals that the Palestinian authorities in both areas:

‘routinely arrest people whose peaceful speech displeases them
and torture those in their custody.’

Image from front cover of report

When approached for comment on HRW’s findings, the authorities in both the West Bank and Gaza:

‘all denied that abuses amount to more than isolated cases that are investigated
 when brought to the attention of authorities, who hold perpetrators to account.’

HRW are very clear that the evidence they have gathered and presented contradicts those denials; stating that:

‘The torture as practiced by both the PA and Hamas may amount to a crime against humanity,
 given its systematic practice over many years.’

Commenting on the report this week the BBC noted that HRW called on the European Union, the United States and other governments that support the Palestinian Authority (PA) or Hamas financially to:

‘suspend aid to the specific units or agencies implicated in the report
until those responsible for alleged abuses were held accountable.’

Al Jazeera News highlighted the fact that both the PA and Hamas rejected the findings of the report as inaccurate and biased.

They quoted Major General Adnan al-Dmairi, a spokesman for the PA’s security forces, as saying:

“Arrests are being carried out according to the law and we are committed to upholding the law.”

And they also quoted Eyad al-Bozom, spokesman of the Hamas-run ministry of interior in Gaza, as saying:

“We do not have a policy of torture. This is a violation of the law.”

But HRW state that both the PA and Hamas rely primarily on ‘overly broad laws’ that criminalise activity such as causing “sectarian strife” or insulting “higher authorities” in order to arrest people. They then use detention to punish their critics and deter them from further protest.