Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned "systematic and arbitrary arbitrary arrests torture "carried out by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.
In a report published on Tuesday, the international rights group demanded that Palestinian governments hold those responsible responsible and also called on donors of Palestinian authorities to suspend aid to agencies implicated in abuses until action is taken.
The conclusions of the report were rejected by both the PA and Hamas for being inaccurate and "biased".
Titled, Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent: Arbitrary Arrest and Torture Under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the 149-page document assessed "arrest patterns and conditions of detention" in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The report is the result of an 86-year investigation of 86 cases and interviews with 147 people who were mostly former detainees, relatives, lawyers and NGO officials.
"The Palestinian Authority and Hamas use detention to punish critics and dissuade them and others from further activism," the report said. "During detention, security forces routinely mock, threaten, beat and force detainees into positions of painful stress for hours at a time."
The rights group also found that Palestinian authorities often use expansive interpretations of broad laws that criminalize the insult of "higher authorities", or "incite" sectarian strife ", or" damage revolutionary unity ", to stop critics during days or weeks. " only to free most of them without referring them to trial, but often leaving the charges pending. "
The two Palestinian authorities arrested individuals for their political activism on university campuses, participating in demonstrations and for activities on social networks, according to the report.
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank operates under an invasive Israeli military occupation, while Gaza, controlled by Hamas, has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian economic and military blockade since 2007.
Hamas vs Fatah: mutual arrests
The report said that the Palestinian Authority controlled by Fatah in Ramallah often arrests activists who are politically affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank, while Hamas arrests Fatah activists in Gaza.
In one case, the Palestinian Authority arrested Osama al-Nabrisi at least 15 times after he served a 12-year prison sentence in an Israeli prison in 2014. On one occasion, he was detained only two days after his release, to his association with Hamas activists in Israeli prison.
In another case, Hamas-controlled police in Gaza arrested former Palestinian Authority security officer Abdel Basset Amoom in 2017 for their participation in a protest over power cuts.
The report details several cases of independent Palestinian journalists and political activists who were arrested, detained and subjected to abuse without adequate arrest warrants for several days.
In some of the cases, the courts acquitted people who considered their arrests "illegal," while others who were arrested for social media postings were ordered to pay huge fines after making an agreement with prosecutors.
Response of the Palestinian Authority
Brigadier General Adnan Dameri, the spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank, told Al Jazeera that the HRW report is full of erroneous and highly skewed information.
The State of Palestine has signed all international laws and conventions that prohibit human rights abuses and torture and is committed to enforcing them.
General Adnan Dameri, spokesman for the AP security forces
"No one from HRW contacted us to obtain accurate information from us about the incidents they allegedly said constituted human rights violations," he said.
"The State of Palestine has signed all the international laws and conventions that prohibit human rights abuses and torture and is committed to enforcing them," he added.
HRW said it had met with the Palestinian Authority's intelligence services in Ramallah and that it could not meet with Hamas representatives in Gaza after Israel denied its official permits.
Dameri acknowledged that incidents of human rights abuses may have occurred at PA facilities, but those cases were not "systematic" nor sanctioned by the government.
"Abuses were committed, but they were committed by individual officers who acted on their own, not based on government policy," he said.
"We are not Switzerland, but we are doing everything possible to defend our laws and prevent violations of human rights if they are committed by individual agents," he said.
"People criticize the government here all the time, we do not arrest people for mere criticism unless a crime such as hate speech is committed and there must be an arrest warrant for that," he added.
Iyad al-Bozom, the spokesman for the Hamas Ministry of the Interior and Palestinian Security Forces in Gaza, told Al Jazeera that he received an investigation from HRW in March requesting details about the alleged human rights abuses committed by the Hamas police organization. .
He told Al Jazeera that he sent HRW a detailed response explaining all the cases they asked about, but the group never considered them when they issued their report.
All of our law enforcement facilities have been and are open to inspections of Palestinian and international human rights organizations.
Iyad al-Bozom, spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces in Gaza
He said he also sent a new memorandum to HRW recently, in which he demanded an explanation from the organization about the allegations of abuses committed by the police in Gaza.
"We never received an answer or any communication from them," he said.
Al-Bozom stressed that the Gaza police force is committed to respecting Palestinian laws that prohibit human rights abuses and torture.
"All of our law enforcement facilities have been and are open to inspection by Palestinian and international human rights organizations," he said.
Al-Bozom also acknowledged that human rights abuses were committed by individual officers who acted on their own, but never by order of the government.
He said that from 2014 to 2016, the Gaza police received 314 complaints of human rights violations committed by individual police officers, which were thoroughly investigated.
He said 90 cases were tried and 224 were not. The offending officers were dismissed or punished in accordance with police regulations, he added.
"People criticize the government or Hamas here all the time, we do not arrest people for that," he said.
A report issued by the Independent Human Rights Commission (IACHR) based in Ramallah documented a total of 23 cases of human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza during the month of September.
Of those cases, 12 were documented in the West Bank and involved the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, while 11 were registered in Gaza, involving the Hamas-controlled police forces.
Hani al-Masri, a political analyst based in Ramallah, said human rights violations and illegal arrests were common.
Al-Masri told Al Jazeera that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority often detain the agents, independent journalists and citizens.
He said that both Palestinian groups rule the areas under their control with an "authoritarian lean."
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