At the time when Palestinians are living disastrous circumstances caused by the aggressions of the Israeli occupation which affected everything including holy places, security agencies of the Palestinian Authority practice arbitrary actions against Palestinian citizens in the West Bank. It carries out organized detentions and interrogations. It also sacks citizens from their jobs.
These actions undermine the rights of the Palestinians and strike their immunity in front of the continuous aggressions of the Israeli occupation and its sellers.
Beside the already corrupted administrations of the Palestinian Authority, such actions have swamped the Palestinians in dire economic circumstances. Thus they became busy in protests and demonstrations against prices’ hikes in order to improve standards of their livelihood. Looking after their economic problems, less attention is being given to the Israeli harms on the Palestinian issue. This strange situation has never existed during the time of the Israeli occupation before Oslo agreement.
To shed the light on the sufferings of the Palestinians, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK issued this report. It exposes to the public the inhumane practices of the security agencies of the Palestinian Authority which keep up with the Israeli aggressions. This is also to contribute to strengthening the human rights front in the Palestinian territories and to enable the Palestinians to encounter the Israeli violations throughout holding inciters against their rights accountability for their actions.
This report covers the period January to July 2012 during which AOHR monitored political detentions, summonses, torture, degrading treatment and employment dismissals affecting men and women. The research was based on information derived from the victims who were detained, their families, eye-witnesses and some NGOs. It also relied on reports issued by the US Congress and documents issued by the European Union Police Mission which show the amount of financial aid provided to Palestinian Authority security agencies. A sample of 300 detainees was asked questions about their detention by the PA as well as by the Israelis; the impact of detention on their lives; and the impact on the Palestinian issue. In order to reveal the extent of the catastrophe, it was necessary to place research outcomes in the context of violations by Palestinian Authority security bodies over the past five years.
The data collected from June 2007 to the end of 2011 indicates that PA security forces detained 13,271 Palestinian citizens, 96 per cent of whom were subjected to various methods of torture resulting in the killing of six detainees and causing chronic illness in others. Ninety-nine per cent of the detainees had experienced detention by the Israelis after which they were also detained by the PA on the same charges. In the same period the Israeli army carried out detention campaigns and raids resulting in thousands of Palestinians being detained; 9,765 according to official statistics, most of whom had also been detained by the PA in the past. They were generally charged based on confessions extracted under torture by PA security officers.
Since the beginning of 2011 the PA is supposed to have eased political detentions and ended systematic torture, but the data collected in 2012 suggests that that has not been the case. A campaign of summons and detentions has taken place. Most of the detainees had already been detained by PA and Israeli security agencies for prolonged periods. The detainees complain that these moves paralyse their lives, disrupt family life and create great psychological suffering. This, they say, amounts to systematic torture.
Between January and July 2012, PA security agencies detained 572 citizens and summonsed 770 more, among them women and old people, who were often forced to wait from early morning to the evening before being “interviewed”. Some were “summonsed” daily for weeks on end, while others were kept under virtual house arrest. The period also witnessed raids against universities, hospitals and houses in order to arrest people wanted for protesting against the Israeli occupation. The PA officers confiscated equipment and personal cash, which often went missing after the searches.
There were also cases of severe torture, and instances where victims were kicked, punched, sworn at and subjected to other degrading treatment. This suggests that systematic torture may have ceased only because there is no one left to do it to.
The exact number of detainees in PA prisons is unknown; it fluctuates between 40 and 85 detainee, depending on the campaign. The various PA security agencies have about 43 centres at their disposal, ranging from the Central Prison to detention stations.
Security tactics include the dismissal of employees from their jobs as a form of harassment. At least 73 people were made unemployed in the period under review, and it is estimated that around 3,200 have faced the same injustice since 2005. Harassment also includes students with “security records” being unable to find employment, acquire a driving licence or open a business.
Naturally, the Israelis are not entirely absent from this scenario, as the PA’s activities are routinely carried out following full coordination with the occupation authorities. In the same period, the Israelis detained about 1,300 Palestinians, 30 per cent of them children. Jerusalem and Hebron saw the most detention operations, with 550 citizens detained in Hebron and 80 children in Jerusalem. It’s worth noting that detentions and summons executed by the PA security agencies surpassed those by the Israelis.
The sample study from our research clarifies the extent of violations against Palestinian citizens and highlights the scale of suffering caused interchangeably by security agencies affiliated to the PA and the Israeli occupation forces. In response to the question, “Have you been detained before by the occupation?” 98 per cent answered yes; 59.7 per cent of the sample clarified that Israeli courts charged them based on information provided by PA security agencies, while 99.7 per cent believed that their detention was carried out in coordination with the occupation authorities.
The data collected also shows that 51 per cent of the detainees or those who were summonsed fall within the 25-59 age range. The security agencies appear to have no concern for the age or gender of those who are being detained or summonsed. A significant number of the detainees are elderly people aged 60 and above, representing 11.3 per cent of the total; women made up 15.3 per cent. Of the sample, 39.3 per cent are students, 38 per cent of whom confirmed that their studies were interrupted as a result of detention.
The sample revealed a decrease in the percentage of employed people, with 34.7 per cent saying that they still work in private employment, while 12.7 per cent of those surveyed said they lost their jobs on account of decisions taken by the security agencies.
Some of those surveyed indicated that they were detained during the research period for periods of one day to a week; they represent 71 per cent. Regarding respect for judicial decisions, 9 per cent of the detainees affirmed that the security agencies refused to implement court rulings ordering their discharge. Despite the decision of judges not to refer them to military courts, the statistics show that 5.3 per cent of those surveyed were eventually brought before such courts.
In the same vein, it was revealed that the PA security agencies practice systematic torture of all kinds, with 99.7 per cent of those questioned claiming that they were exposed to degrading treatment; 18.7 per cent experienced severe torture compared to 99 per cent of the sample who stated that they were tortured in previous years by the Palestinian Authority.
With regards to the effect of detention on the lives of the detainees, 60 per cent of those in the study explained that they now suffer from chronic diseases due to torture and the poor conditions in which they were held in detention. On another level, 60 per cent confirmed that repeated or extensive detention reduced them to a state of acute poverty.
Despite the grave human rights violations by the PA security agencies, they continue to enjoyed enormous support from the US and EU.
According to the documents which were obtained, the US has since 2007 provided generous assistance estimated at $658.4 million. For the coming financial year of 2013, the Obama administration has demanded an additional $70 million. The US also undertook to train 6,000 personnel. Thus far, eight battalions have been trained, each one consisting of 500 officers. As for the EU, it has allocated through the European Union Police Mission an estimated $9 million for training the PA police and development of the criminal justice department. Around 7,500 police officers have already been trained.
It is staggering that the PA should, in the shadow of the Arab Spring, cultivate its own system of impunity, in total defiance of its people’s demands for freedom and dignity. They seem to be oblivious of the factors which led to the downfall of the tyrannical regimes across the region. There is absolutely no justification for its acceptance of becoming a sub-contracted security instrument of the Israeli occupation,
crushing at every opportunity the legitimate aspirations of their people for freedom and self-determination.
The PA’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people have amplified their suffering under the Israelis and undermined their national immunity and struggle for self-determination. It is clearly obvious that the PA hasn’t learnt from its experiences with the Israelis or from the uprisings in the Arab lands. On the contrary, it remains firmly committed to its campaign of detention and destroying national solidarity while serving foreign agendas which strike the Palestinian national freedom project at its core.
As the Palestinian Authority has got an observer status in the UN, it is necessary for its leaders to be obligated by the international laws and conventions which protect human rights in the times of war and peace. The state which comes out from under the occupation must be set up on true bases built on the rights of the Palestinian citizen to life and freedom.
After the latest aggressive war against the Gaza strip, the Arabic Organisation for Human Rights in UK expected that all forms of security cooperation between the PA and the Israelis to be stopped. It also expected that political detention and summons to be halted, too. Unfortunately, this has not happen as during the war many Palestinians were detained despite the wide scale solidarity action against the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.
AOHR blames complete responsibility for these human rights violations on the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. However, such violations are classified as dangerous breaches for the Fourth Geneva Convention which protects the rights of citizens under the occupation.
For an urgent action, AOHR call for the Secretary Generals of the UN, Arab League and the Islamic Cooperation Organisation to practice pressure in Mahmoud Abbas in order to stop all kinds of political detention as that it harms the interests of the whole Palestinians.