Annual Report: Palestinian Authority 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Palestinian Authority 2013

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  • Two-year-old Hadeel Ahmad Haddad was killed and her eight-year-old cousin was severely injured when a rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group hit their home in al-Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza City on 19 June.
  • On 15 November, three Israeli civilians, Mirah Scharf, Itzik Amsalem and Aharon Smadja, were killed and other civilians were injured when an indiscriminate rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group in Gaza hit their house in Kiryat Malachi.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

In the West Bank, PA security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained hundreds of people, including members of Fatah; most were denied due legal process. Hundreds of Hamas supporters were detained, mostly for up to two days, when President Abbas visited the UN in September. In Gaza, Hamas security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained hundreds of suspected Fatah supporters, usually holding them without access to lawyers. Detainees were frequently beaten and otherwise ill-treated with impunity by both PA and Hamas security forces.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), a PA-established monitoring body, said it received complaints of more than 685 arbitrary arrests in the West Bank and more than 470 in Gaza in 2012.

Prison conditions

In the West Bank, the PA denied the ICHR access to detention centres run by Preventive Security, while inmates went on hunger strikes to protest against harsh conditions and continued detention despite court orders for their release. In Gaza, Hamas allowed the ICHR to resume visiting detention centres run by Internal Security in October for the first time in five years.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Detainees were tortured or otherwise ill-treated with impunity, particularly by the Police Criminal Investigation Department and Preventive Security in the West Bank, and by police and Internal Security in Gaza. The ICHR reported receiving 142 allegations of torture or other ill-treatment in the West Bank and 129 in Gaza. Methods alleged included beatings, suspension by the wrists or ankles, and enforced standing or sitting in painful positions for long periods.

  • Mohammad Said al-Zaqzouq died in suspicious circumstances in Gaza while held at Khan Younis police station in October. An investigation was announced but no results were reported by the end of the year.
  • Tareq Khriesheh said he was made to stand for more than eight hours with one hand tied to a wall and beaten while being interrogated by Criminal Investigations Department officers in Ramallah in January.

Justice system

PA security forces continued to detain people without charge or trial for prolonged periods and to delay or fail to implement court orders for release. PA military courts continued to try civilians whose prosecutions began before a January 2011 decision to cease sending civilians to military courts. In Gaza, Hamas held detainees without charge or trial and tried civilians before military courts.

In both the West Bank and Gaza, civilian and military prosecutors failed to act impartially or to prevent the police and security services arresting people without warrants, abusing people and bringing politically motivated charges against them.

  • A court ordered the release of Abd al-Fatah al-Hassan in 2010 but he continued to be held throughout 2012 by Preventive Security in Ramallah. He had been sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment by a military court in September 2009. In October, the Palestinian Constitutional Court refused to rule on an appeal filed by his lawyer for his release.
  • Isma'il Abd al-Rahman was taken from his home in Gaza City by Internal Security officials in September, detained without charge or trial and denied access to a lawyer. He was released in December.

Freedoms of expression, association and assembly

Both the PA and Hamas maintained tight restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, harassing and prosecuting journalists, bloggers and other critics. In both the West Bank and Gaza, security forces used excessive force against demonstrators, scores of whom were arbitrarily arrested and detained.