State of Palestine: Stop excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and torture against peaceful demonstrators
Index: MDE 21/8656/2018 2
The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip have launched brutal crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators over the last two weeks. Amnesty International strongly condemns the violent actions of the security forces calls on both authorities to take immediate and effective steps to rein in the security forces, uphold the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and bring to justice those responsible for arbitrary or abusive force.
On 13 June West Bank-based security forces quashed a demonstration by activists in Ramallah demanding that the Palestinian government lift the sanctions imposed on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. On Tuesday 12 June, the advisor on Governorate Affairs to President Mahmoud Abbas, had declared that all protests would be banned until the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr and that no protests would be allowed. However, the organizers confirmed that they would continue with their protest and made it clear that they did not seek confrontation with the Palestinian authorities.
Amnesty International monitored the demonstration and conducted 26 interviews with victims, witnesses, journalists, and a medical professional working at a nearby hospital. It found that Palestinian security forces, many in civilian clothes, brutally attacked scores of non-violent demonstrators and bystanders, using sound grenades, tear gas, and physical assault to disperse them. At least 52 demonstrators and bystanders were arbitrarily arrested and beaten during detention. Amnesty International staff member Laith Abu Zeyad, was among those arbitrarily detained and tortured. He was attacked by two security officials in civilian clothes while on his way to monitor the demonstration. He was handed to police in uniform who beat him while in detention.
On Monday 18 June, a demonstration in the Gaza Strip organized by the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees was violently supressed by men in civilian clothes who are likely to have been members of the Hamas security services. The demonstration was calling for an end to salary sanctions on employees of the Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip and for an end to Palestinian political division,
The trend of escalating repression of dissent and opposition in the ongoing political conflict between the administrations of the West Bank and Gaza is deeply troubling.