Report on Palestinian Authority Arrest and Torture Practices Goes Under the Radar
Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) is the first and leading media organisation in the MENA region, dedicated to promoting investigative journalism across the Arab world. Based in Amman, ARIJ was founded in 2005 with the aim of supporting independent, quality and professional journalism.
They have just released a report – based on an investigation by palestinian Arab journalist Aziza J Nofal – dealing with arrests carried out by the Palestinian Authority, as well as torture in their prisons.
Here are some of the report’s “highlights”:
On February 22, 2021, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh stated that the West Bank security apparatus do not detain people for freely expressing their opinion.
The truth, however, was far from that; in the same month, the Independent Commission for Human Rights recorded nine complaints related to political arrests made by the security services in the West bank whose head is the Prime Minister himself as he is also Minister of Interior.
Abu-Antar’s case is one of more than 2,600 arrests documented in the West Bank between 2015 and mid-2021. The investigation is based on the number of complaints filed with the Independent Commission by detainees or their families. This means that the actual number of cases may be higher.
In 2018, 26% of the 250 documented arrest cases were politically motivated. This was the same year in which marches in the West Bank took place in protest of sanctions imposed on Gaza by the Palestinian Authority.
2019 saw the highest increase in the politically motivated arrests when 85 such cases were recorded. According to human rights activist Sahar Francis, these arrests coincided with protests against the new Social Security Law introduced, and the preparations for student council elections at West Bank universities.
In 2020, Abu-Antar was arrested again due to a social media post in which he criticized the Palestinian Authority. His arrest was one of 62 arrests recorded during that year when a state of emergency was declared in March to help fight Covid-19 pandemic and the protests that took place in support of people with disabilities. The arrests pattern continued in 2021 to silence protests made against corruption, and against the preparations made to hold new elections and later their cancelation. 27 arrests were recorded until the end of June of that year.
Saleh Mohammad Zahran from the town of Deir Abu Mish’al near Ramallah lived through months of torture in the prisons of the Palestinian Authority. He says, “After 48 hours of continuous torture, I lost vision and the ability to distinguish sounds. The smell of blood was unbearable.” At the beginning of 2021, he was unable to bear the pain of torture at the hands of the Palestinian police.
Zahran was arrested while at a public hospital in Ramallah, the declared charge was “incitement against the security services and loitering in a place that is off limits.” The interrogation did not address these charges, however; he says, “During the investigation, I discovered that my political file and the arrest decision had been ready for a while, and they only needed an excuse to arrest me.”
Zahran’s hands and feet remained tied over the course of 48 hours and he was forbidden from sitting straight. An interrogator would strike his head and would hit him again if he raised it. Then, another person would hit him in the stomach. If he moved backwards, they would hit him on the back.
Additionally, a torrent of insults was directed towards him whenever he tried to speak, and he would be hit in the face after every word. They also threatened to transfer him to Jericho where he would be tortured further. He says, “I was not allowed to contact a lawyer or my family to reassure them that I was alive.”
Zahran was not the only person who was tortured; 61% of the 250 cases documented in this investigation experienced torture, and this violates Palestinian laws and international conventions to which Palestine has acceded.
Read the entire thing.
As far as I can tell, the report was publicized 15 hours ago as of the time of this post. I have not seen it covered by any of the media or so-called human rights organizations. I guess they are all too busy amplifying the sham Amnesty International “Apartheid Israel” Report.
Hat tip: Michal