Report: Palestinian Authority, Hamas Routinely Torture ‘Peaceful Critics’
A Human Right Watch report released Tuesday details the systematic arrest and torture of “peaceful critics” by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, making little distinction between the regimes. The 149-page report, titled “Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent” and based on interviews with scores of witnesses, claims that the deepening rift between the longstanding rivals has created a situation in which both target each other’s supporters. Mahmoud Abbas’ Ramallah-based government also was accused of regularly torturing proponents of his arch-rival Mohammed Dahlan, previously the head of the PA’s security forces in Gaza who has been living in exile since being accused of involvement in the killing of former Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat. Overall, the findings suggest that Palestinians can be subjected to harsh interrogation techniques simply for posting negative comments on Facebook or for perpetrating non-violent offensives such as theft. The PA and Hamas have been at odds since the latter forcibly evicted the former from Gaza in a bloody internecine conflict in 2007. Observers are describing the report as particularly significant given that it concentrates uniquely on Palestinian abuses, whereas Human Rights Watch in the past generally has focused on Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians.