The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) last week issued a report revealing the latest assaults on freedoms and human rights in the West Bank and Gaza, committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas respectively.
The monthly report lists assorted abuses, including cases of torture and mistreatment in prisons and at the hands of the PA’s feared Preventive Security Service.
For the month of January 2014, ICHR received 56 complaints about torture and mistreatment in Palestinian prisons, including 36 in the Gaza Strip and 19 in the West Bank.
In addition to cases of physical mistreatment, the Palestinian human rights organisation reported dozens of complaints about arbitrary and unlawful arrests of Palestinians by the various PA police and security forces and by Hamas. ICHR related that it received 85 complaints during January concerning such unlawful arrests by the two Palestinian governments. Many of the detainees reported being taken into custody for “politically-motivated” reasons.
The report cited additional complaints from Palestinians who accused the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank of unlawfully seizing their money, computer sets, mobile phones, cameras and flash memory devices belonging to citizens. Despite frequent calls for returning these items, seized without any judicial order, the PA has returned nothing to the rightful owners.
ICHR received 46 complaints concerning violations of the right to due process of law, largely for arbitrary or political reasons, including violations of the right to a fair trial and political detention.
The report also found the PA again ignoring court rulings. The Preventive Security Service and the General Intelligence Force chronically ignore orders issued by various courts to release Palestinian detainees. The report listed seven such illegal detention cases that occurred last month.
The dismal human rights records of both the Palestinaian Authority and Hamas have been tracked for some time, yet receive virtually no media attention.
In December 2012, the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) released a report accusing the PA of “inhumane practices and human rights violations” against Palestinian civilians.
The AOHR report alleged that between 2007 and 2011, the PA tortured over 10,000 detainees, resulting in six deaths, and that PA officers confiscated equipment and personal cash after arresting suspects.
The ICHR monthly reports repeatedly show that neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas show much respect for human rights or freedoms in the territories they control. But perhaps more disturbing is the lack of media interest in these human rights abuses at the hands of Palestinian governments.
Western governments, journalists, and the mostly left-leaning human rights organizations routinely ignore such findings, instead focusing on “the Occupation” by Israel as the sole source of discontent among Palestinians. The PA has been especially adept at shifting blame to Israel for human rights violations.