Security forces of the rival Palestinian governments routinely use torture and arbitrary arrests, among other tactics, to quash dissent by peaceful activists and political opponents, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
The report, titled “Palestine: Authorities Crush Dissent,” was comprised over the course of two years, while investigating 86 different cases of human rights violations. and is based on 147 different interviews with both former detainees and Palestinian lawyers. Upon concluding the report, HMW asserted that the Palestinian authorities “routinely arrest people whose peaceful speech displeases them and torture those in their custody,” adding that both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas “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.”
According to the report, Palestinian authorities have carried out dozens of arrests for critical posts on social media platforms, “which Palestinians increasingly rely on to share their views, connect with one another, and organize activities.”
While the report said that practice of arresting citizens for nonviolent speech is a significant violation of human rights, it added that torturing of detainees by the Palestinians may constitute an actual crime against humanity given its systematic practice over many years.
In addition to arbitrary citizen arrests, the two governing bodies are also accused of targeting journalists, either affiliated with the rival camp or unaffiliated ones who produce reports critical of their policies.
“Both the PA and Hamas regularly speak of Palestinian independence and unity, but detention and torture of rivals and critics undermine their best argument: the promise of greater freedom,” the report concluded, adding that “national reconciliation and freedom will require reckoning with these serious abuses, holding perpetrators to account, and dismantling their machineries of repression.”
“I don’t think that there is a Palestinian who would accept that all this struggle would go, & all the years of our lives, so that in the end we would have a system of government that has taken the shape of a dictatorship. It cannot be.” pic.twitter.com/OmUaaMw6PP
— Omar Shakir (@OmarSShakir) October 24, 2018