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PA continues to torture Palestinian prisoners, rights group says

Palestinian Authority security forces.
Palestinian Authority (PA) security services [file photo]

A human rights group has claimed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to torture and abuse Palestinian prisoners under its watch.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK said that the PA’s security services continue their repressive approach against activists, using psychological and physical torture against them.

The organisation explained that, in the past two weeks, PA security services in the occupied West Bank have arrested 17 Palestinians, including previously-released prisoners and students. The arrests were carried out by the Preventive Security Service (PSS) in Tubas, northeast of Nablus, the Jenin Intelligence and the General Intelligence in Nablus.

The organisation said that among the detainees was Murad Fattash, whose mother has since declared a hunger strike in protest against his arrest and the harsh treatment he received at the PSS detention centre in Salfit, southwest of Nablus. The security services also prevented Fattash’s family from supplying him with appropriate winter clothes and blankets for the cold weather.

The group also pointed out that the wife and mother of detainee Abdulrahman Shaheen, from the city of Salfit, announced a hunger strike yesterday evening in solidarity with Abdulrahman, who was arbitrarily detained 21 days ago by the PSS.

Two detainees, Montasar Al-Shunnar and Qutaiba Azem, were reportedly presented to court on Tuesday. Both bore marks of severe brutality and torture and, though they filed complaints to the court about their treatment, their complaints were ignored. The court instead extended their confinement on charges of stirring up sectarian strife and collecting and receiving funds from illegal associations.

Read: PA investigators threatened to rape me, alleges former prisoner

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK provided further examples of torture by PA security forces. One detainee, Qutaiba Azem, attended the court session with the scars of physical abuse and torture visible on his body. He attended the session without his glasses, which had been broken when he was beaten while being interrogated by the Nablus intelligence service.

Another prisoner, Al-Shunnar, was also in a state of extreme exhaustion, completely unable to stand or move. His state was a result of being subjected to the “Shabah” position – in which the prisoner is seated on a small chair which is then tilted forward – as well as other methods of torture which caused his feet to swell and for him to vomit blood.

The organisation added that the PA security services continue to arbitrarily arrest students and activists as an instrument of silencing them, especially after the decision to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). As a result, the Palestinian judiciary is unable to achieve justice for the detainees or open investigations into torture and abuse.

The group concluded by calling on the international community, particularly those who support the PA security services, to take a decisive position to stop the arbitrary detention of Palestinian citizens, torture and suppressing freedom of opinion and expression and to hold those responsible to account.

Read: HRW: PA, Hamas ‘systematically’ practice torture in ‘parallel police states’

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