Thursday, 25 October 2018

Abbas and Hamas Abuse and Torture of Palestinians is a Gift to the Israeli Government

Palestine: Authorities Crush Dissent




A new Report by Human Rights Watch Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent finds that both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority systematically use torture as an instrument of policy. The Report begins with an overview of what the situation in the Occupied Territories is:
In the 25 years since Palestinians gained a degree of self-rule over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, their authorities have established machineries of repression to crush dissent, including through the use of torture.
Both the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza have in recent years carried out scores of arbitrary arrests for peaceful criticism of the authorities, particularly on social media, among independent journalists, on university campuses, and at demonstrations. As the Fatah-Hamas feud deepened despite attempts at reconciliation, PA security services have targeted supporters of Hamas and vice versa. Relying primarily on overly broad laws that criminalize activity such as causing “sectarian strife” or insulting “higher authorities,” the PA and Hamas use detention to punish critics and deter them and others from further activism. In detention, security forces routinely taunt, threaten, beat, and force detainees into painful stress positions for hours at a time.

It is no surprise that the PA, which is a sub-contractor for the Israeli State and military, should torture Palestinians. This group of thugs and misfits has no other reason to exist other than to prevent a new Palestinian uprising. As the Quisling-in-Chief, Mahmoud Abbas once said, co-operation with the Israeli security services is ‘sacrosanct’. Or as the Times of Israel put it:
Strange as this may sound, despite the ongoing political schism between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the open hatred between Ramallah and Washington, the security coordination remains in place, at the direction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and both Israeli and Palestinian security forces have a share in preventing attacks on Israelis.
What will be of surprise to many is that Hamas, which purports to be a Palestinian resistance organisation, should also engage in the torture and abuse of Palestinians. It should not however be that surprising. As an Islamist organisation that was the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is a right-wing religious group. It has no social programme worthy of the name. Like all similar religious groups its politics are backward looking, socially and politically. Islam is a means of justifying repression. Hamas’s origins lie in the desire of the Israeli state to find a counterweight to secular Palestinian nationalism. Hamas was virtually the creation of the Israeli state.
The actions of both Hamas and Fateh/PA are deeply shameful. The Times of Israel article below is headed Calls by Palestinians to safeguard rights ring hollow’. After all how can Palestinians oppose Israel’s use of torture when the so-called Palestinian organisations do exactly the same? It is no surprise that the Zionist media will exploit this for all its worth.  Both Abbas and Haniyeh, the Hamas Prime Minister, should hang their heads in shame.
There is no point in either Hamas or the PA denying that torture is routinely used. The Report by Human Rights Watch is clearly a thorough and painstaking one. Neither Hamas or the PA are prepared to record all interrogations so their denials will cut no ice.
Those who have had illusions in Hamas should, as a result of this, think again. It would seem that their main goal is not to create a free and independent Palestine but a police state run according to their interpretation of Islam.
In using torture and other methods of silencing dissent Hamas is playing the Zionist game.

Palestine: Authorities Crush Dissent

Arbitrary Arrests, Torture Systematic

 (Ramallah) – The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas authorities in Gaza routinely arrest and torture peaceful critics and opponents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. As the Palestinian Authority-Hamas feud has deepened, each has targeted the other’s supporters.
The 149-page report, “‘Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent:’ Arbitrary Arrest and Torture Under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” evaluates patterns of arrest and detention conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 25 years after the Oslo Accords granted Palestinians a degree of self-rule over these areas and more than a decade after Hamas seized effective control over the Gaza Strip. Human Rights Watch detailed more than two dozen cases of people detained for no clear reason beyond writing a critical article or Facebook post or belonging to the wrong student group or political movement.
Twenty-five years after Oslo, Palestinian authorities have gained only limited power in the West Bank and Gaza, but yet, where they have autonomy, they have developed parallel police states,”
said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “Calls by Palestinian officials to safeguard Palestinian rights ring hollow as they crush dissent.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 147 witnesses, including former detainees and their relatives, lawyers, and representatives of nongovernmental groups, and reviewed photographic evidence, medical reports, and court documents. The report reflects substantive responses to the findings from the main security agencies implicated in the underlying abuses.
Systematic arbitrary arrests and torture violate major human rights treaties to which Palestine recently acceded. Few security officers have been prosecuted and none have been convicted for wrongful arrest or torture, as far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine.
The fact that Israel systematically violates Palestinians’ most basic rights is no reason to remain silent in the face of the systematic repression of dissent and the torture Palestinian security forces are perpetrating,”
Palestinian riot police confront demonstrators protesting security coordination between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 23, 2014. © 2014 Mohamad Torokman/Reuters
said Shawan Jabarin, executive director of the Palestinian human rights organization al-Haq and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee.
Human Rights Watch met with the Palestinian Authority Intelligence Services in Ramallah, but was unable to accept an offer from Hamas authorities to meet in Gaza because Israel refused to grant permits for senior Human Rights Watch officials to enter the Gaza Strip for this purpose. Israeli authorities also rejected Human Rights Watch’s request for senior representatives to enter Gaza during October 2018 to present this report at a news conference.  
Both authorities deny that abuses amount to more than isolated cases that are investigated and for which wrongdoers are held to account. The evidence that Human Rights Watch collected contradicts these claims.
Palestinian authorities often rely on overly broad laws that criminalize insulting “higher authorities,” creating “sectarian strife,” or “harming the revolutionary unity” to detain dissidents for days or weeks, only to release most of them without referring them to trial, but often leaving charges outstanding. Palestinian Authority security forces also held 221 Palestinians for various periods between January 2017 and August 2018 in administrative detention without charge or trial under a regional governor’s order, according to the Palestinian statutory watchdog Independent Commission for Human Rights.  
A number of former Palestinian Authority detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch had also been detained by Israel, which coordinates with Palestinian Authority forces on security issues. In Gaza, Hamas authorities sometimes condition release on the detainee signing a commitment to halt criticism or protests.
On September 27, the Independent Commission for Human Rights reported that Hamas security forces in Gaza had arrested more than 50 people affiliated with Fatah and that Palestinian Authority forces in the West Bank had detained more than 60 affiliated with Hamas, in the span of just a few days.
In the cases documented, Palestinian forces often threatened, beat, and forced detainees into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, including using cables or ropes to hoist up arms  behind the back. Police often used similar tactics to obtain confessions by people detained on drug or other criminal charges. Security forces also routinely coerced detainees into providing access to their cellphones and social media accounts. These measures appear aimed at punishing dissidents and deterring them and others from further activism.
While the authorities regularly receive citizen complaints and have systems to investigate them, only a minority have resulted in a finding of wrongdoing, according to data provided by the agencies. Even fewer led to an administrative sanction or referral for criminal prosecution.
Palestinian authorities should abide by the international human rights treaties they acceded to over the last five years. Hamas authorities said in a letter to Human Rights Watch that it considered itself committed to uphold all international treaties ratified by the State of Palestine. Compliance requires Palestinian authorities to ensure that an independent body inspects detention sites and that the authorities investigate complaints credibly and impose appropriate sanctions if warranted.
The systematic practice of torture by Palestinian authorities may amount to a crime against humanity prosecutable at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Human Rights Watch has long encouraged the ICC prosecutor to open a formal probe into Israeli and Palestinian conduct in Palestine, which is a party to the ICC.
The US and European states provide support to Palestinian Authority security forces. While the US in 2018 slashed funding for health and education services for Palestinians, including all its support for the United Nations Relief Works and Agency (UNRWA), it continued to set aside funding for security forces, including allocating US $60 million in International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) nonlethal assistance to Palestinian Authority security forces for the 2018 fiscal year and $35 million for the 2019 fiscal year. Qatar, Iran, and Turkey financially support Hamas authorities. All of these countries should suspend assistance to agencies that routinely torture dissidents – including, for the Palestinian Authority, the Intelligence Services, Preventive Security, and Joint Security Committee, and, for Hamas, Internal Security – as long as systematic torture and other serious abuses continue.
“The attacks by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas on dissidents and demonstrators, reporters and bloggers, are both systematic and unpunished,”
Porteous said.
“Governments that want to help the Palestinian people develop the rule of law should not support security forces that actively undermine it.”
Accounts from Former Detainees
“I was heading home. At the Einab checkpoint, I happened to see the prime minister’s convoy being held up on the checkpoint. I filmed this scene. After the car I was in and the convoy was allowed to cross the checkpoint, we were stopped by one of his escorts. I was arrested and taken to the station of the Preventative Security Forces in Tulkarm. I was detained in Tulkarm and in Ramallah for four days.”
·         Jihad Barakat, 29, journalist on his arrest by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank in July 2017.
“I had written on a hot summer day, ‘Do your children [referring to Hamas leaders] sleep on the floor like ours do?’ I think the post bothered security forces and, as a result, I was summoned to appear before Internal Security and later was charged with the crime of ‘misuse of technology’… I was detained for 15 days... Later, I was released after an agreement with the Interior Ministry. The agreement pledged not to write or incite against the government.”
·         Amer Balousha, 26-year-old activist and journalist on his arrest in July 2017 by Hamas authorities in Gaza.
“A plainclothes officer met me at the door [of the Intelligence Services Prison in Jericho]. He blindfolded me, handcuffed my hands behind my back, and started hitting me and slamming me against the walls… this lasted for about 10 minutes. The officer took me to the warden’s office and took the blindfold off, telling me that this was my “welcome”... [an officer] then said hang him, as in take him to shabeh. I was transferred from the office to the toilets, there they blindfolded me again, handcuffed me behind my back, put a piece of cloth and rope at the center of my handcuffs and pulled it up to the side of the door. There was a hook between the door and the ceiling. They pulled the cloth up, raising my hands behind my back. My legs were not shackled, and the tip of my legs were touching the ground. I was held in this stress position for 45 minutes. An officer hit me with a big stick on my back, between my shoulders, more than once... After they put me down, I felt my hands were numb up to my shoulders and I could not hold myself up… [the next day] the Juicer (nickname for his interrogator in Jericho) told me that ‘I promise you that you will not leave this place except on a wheelchair.”
·         Alaa Zaqeq, 27, detained by PA security forces in April 2017 for three weeks based on his activism as a graduate student with a student group affiliated with Hamas.
“I was forced to stand blindfolded the entire day in a room called the bus. There were 5 or 10 people with me. On occasion they sat us down in small chairs, but we needed permission for everything we did, including sleeping or speaking. I spent 30 days there… After the first day, the beating started, they asked me to open my hands and started striking me with a cable and whipping my feet.”
·         Fouad Jarada, 34-year-old journalist with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, arrested in June 2017 by Hamas forces three days after a Facebook post critical of a Hamas ally and a string of critical news reports. Authorities held him for more than two months on charges of “harming revolutionary unity,” releasing him only when the PA agreed to arrest journalists considered close to Hamas in the West Bank.
“I still have nightmares… [that] the cell is strangling me and I cannot breathe.”
·         Fares Jbour, 24, held for 24 days in January 2017 over his activities with a Hamas-affiliated student group at a university in Hebron in the West Bank
“The guys are afraid of writing. They don't try. They don't share. They don’t even put “like” to anyone who wrote anything criticizing the government. They are scared.”
·         Mohammad Lafi, 24-year-old rapper from the Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza, held for five days in January 2017 by Hamas authorities after he released a music video entitled “Your Right” that called for people to demonstrate and participated in protests around the electricity crisis.
“I feel I am being monitored, as if I’m under a microscope. I was released, but, until now, I feel I am not free. They broke our desire to defend citizens’ rights.”
·         Taghreed Abu Teer, 47-year-old journalist with the Palestinian Broading Corporation, detained for 11 days in April 2017 by Hamas authorities after attending conferences for rival Fatah in Ramallah.
“I live in a country where it is forbidden to express my opinion. This country is not the one we dream about, not at all. I don’t think that there is a Palestinian who would accept that all this struggle would go, and all the years of our lives, not just ours, but those before us, so that in the end we would have a system of government that has taken the shape of a dictatorship. It cannot be… it is very painful that we have a regime before ever having a state. Our problem with the PA is that they are building security forces and controlling people when we don’t even control the checkpoint.”
·         Hamza Zbeidat, 31-year-old who works for a development nongovernmental group, detained for two days by PA security forces in May 2016 for a Facebook post that called on Palestinians “to struggle against the PA like we struggle against Israel.”

Abbas and Hamas use systematic torture to crush dissent – Human Rights Watch

In major NGO report on Palestinian Authority and Gaza, dozens of ex-detainees — critics, activists, political opponents — describe brutality including beating, forced contortion

23 October 2018, 10:00 am 11
Illustrative: The hands of a young man tied with rope (nito100; iStock by Getty Images)

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas of routinely engaging in “systematic” unwarranted arrests and torture of critics, suspected dissidents and political opponents, and of developing “parallel police states” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively. 
In a 149-page report based on interviews with 147 witnesses, Human Rights Watch detailed a common method of abuse and torture known as shabeh — used both by the PA and Hamas — in which detainees are placed in painful physical positions for lengthy periods of time. Such practices cause distress and trauma to detainees, while often leaving “little or no trace on the body,” the report said.
The widespread occurrence of such brutality indicates that “torture is governmental policy for both the PA and Hamas,” HRW stated.
Shabeh techniques include forcing detainees into squats, powerfully stretching their arms above or behind them, and leaving them standing or sitting in child-sized chairs for hours on end.
Palestinian security troops in Hebron, November 14, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
In one example from Gaza, 
“a PA civil servant, arrested after a friend tagged him in a Facebook post calling for protests on the electricity crisis, spent most of his days in the Internal Security’s Gaza City detention center subjected to positional abuse… causing him to feel ‘severe pain in my kidneys and spine’ and as if his neck would ‘break’ and his ‘body is tearing up inside,'” the report said.
In the West Bank, a detained journalist had his hands tied by rope to the ceiling of a holding room while officers “slowly pulled the rope to apply pressure to his arms, which caused him to feel so much pain that he had to ask an officer to pull his pants up after he used the toilet because he could not do it himself.”
According to the report, “Palestinian forces in both the West Bank and Gaza regularly use threats of violence, taunts, solitary confinement, and beatings, including lashing and whipping of the feet of detainees, to elicit confessions, punish, and intimidate activists.”
 
 The report, titled “Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent,” cited more than 20 cases in which activists were arrested for critical news articles or social media posts, as well as membership in certain groups or movements frowned upon by authorities. Hamas and the PA regularly abused each other’s activists in the territories they control, it added.
Saying the systematic use of torture could amount to a crime against humanity under the United Nations’ Convention against Torture, HRW called on the United States, the European Union and other international powers to halt all aid to the Palestinian agencies responsible for persecution and abuse — including the PA Preventative Security Forces, General Intelligence Services and Joint Security Committee, and the Hamas-run Internal Security — “until the authorities curb those practices and hold those responsible for abuse accountable.”
“Twenty five years after Oslo, Palestinian authorities have gained only limited power in the West Bank and Gaza, but yet, where they have autonomy, they have developed parallel police states,” said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch.
Calls by Palestinian officials to safeguard Palestinian rights ring hollow as they crush dissent,” he said.
“Systematic arbitrary arrests and torture violate major human rights treaties to which Palestine recently acceded,” the rights group said, and warned that the “systematic practice of torture by Palestinian authorities may amount to a crime against humanity prosecutable at the International Criminal Court.”
Hamas security forces in Gaza City, April 4, 2013. (Wissam Nassar/FLASH90)
Both Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority denied the accusations.
The two Palestinian factions split in 2007 after Hamas violently seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. For more than a decade, Hamas has maintained an iron grip on power and suppressed any signs of public dissent, including street protests and on social media.
Despite having Western backing, Abbas has also silenced dissent in the areas of the West Bank he administers under past agreements with Israel. Last year, he clamped down on social media and news websites with a vaguely worded decree that critics say allows his government to jail anyone on charges of harming “national unity” or the “social fabric.”
Mohammed Khatib, a 20-year-old law student and activist with Hamas’ student branch in the West Bank, told The Associated Press he was arrested last month and held for 19 days at a Palestinian intelligence center in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He said he was forced to stand for hours at a time and hung by his handcuffed hands to a door for 15 minutes, a stress position meant to cause pain but leave no sign of injury.
“This is not only a violation of human rights, it is a violation of human dignity, a violation of basic morals,” he said, adding that he believed the aim was to intimidate him.
HRW’s report also highlights other tactics used to silence Palestinian dissent and punish activists, among them the seizing of phones, leaving investigations and charges open, and coercing detainees to promise to stop any further criticism.
In Gaza, Taghreed Abu Teer, a 47-year-old journalist, told the AP that she was held by Hamas authorities for 11 days and interrogated under “humiliating circumstances” for her activities with the rival Fatah movement.
Palestinian police take part in a training session in the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

She said she was kept in a dark cell for days at a time and forced to stand for lengthy periods. Although she was not physically beaten, she said she could hear the screams of men being tortured nearby, and that at one point, a man with a whip threatened to beat her as well. More than a year and a half later, she still cries when she recalls the “unforgettable experience.”
“As long as I was in the cell, I was wondering what had caused me to end up here,” she said. She spoke at a relative’s home so her six children would not hear about the ordeal.
Abu Teer said interrogators threatened to charge her with collaboration with Israel, widely feared as a stigma, and that most of the questions focused on a three-day trip she made to the West Bank, where she met senior Fatah officials and briefed them about the situation in Gaza. She said interrogators accused her of inciting the Palestinian Authority to make financial cuts and other punitive measures against Gaza, a tactic meant to squeeze Hamas.
She denied all the allegations, saying she had only led protests and lobbied for ending the Hamas-Fatah split.
While she was never charged, Hamas officers advised her “to be quiet” and focus on her home and family, “which I considered a veiled threat rather than advice,” she added.

alestinian security forces routinely torture critics, rights group says

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