Palestinians protest arrests, torture by PA security forces

The detainees who are being held in PA prisons include university students, academics, political activists, as well as people suspected of affiliation with Hamas.

A Palestinian woman waits before leaving Rafah border crossing with Egypt, which was reopened for the first time since it was closed in March over Covid-19 concerns, in the southern Gaza strip August 11, 2020. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
A Palestinian woman waits before leaving Rafah border crossing with Egypt, which was reopened for the first time since it was closed in March over Covid-19 concerns, in the southern Gaza strip August 11, 2020.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

The families of dozens of Palestinians held in Palestinian Authority prisons and detention centers have called for the release of the detainees.

The families and Palestinian human rights activists claimed that some of the detainees were brutally tortured while being held in the PA’s Jericho Prison, which is notoriously referred to by many Palestinians as the “Jericho Slaughterhouse.”

The detainees who are being held in PA prisons include university students, academics, political activists, as well as people suspected of affiliation with Hamas.

According to the Palestinian group Lawyers For Justice, the PA security forces have intensified the crackdown on Palestinians in recent weeks.

Since the beginning of June, the group noted, it has documented 63 instances of “political detentions” by the PA security services in the West Bank.

Palestinians hold the pictures Palestinian prisonners detained in Israeli prison starting a  hunger strike against the administrative detention in  the  village Dura, on September 17, 2021. (credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)Palestinians hold the pictures Palestinian prisonners detained in Israeli prison starting a hunger strike against the administrative detention in the village Dura, on September 17, 2021. (credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)

Most of the detentions and arrests are carried out by the General Intelligence Force and the Preventive Security Force.

The detainees are often accused of fomenting sectarian strife, illegal gathering, illegal possession of weapons and collecting and receiving illegal funds, Lawyers For Justice pointed out.

Palestinian sources said that one of the detainees, Ahmed Khasib, a lawyer from Ramallah, has been subjected to brutal torture inside the “Jericho Slaughterhouse.”

At least 15 Palestinians from Hebron who protested economic hardship and called for an end to financial and administrative corruption in the PA were also rounded up by the PA security forces.

During the protest in Ramallah, the families called on Palestinians to launch mass protests to end the “political detentions” and “torture” in PA prisons.

The Palestinian response 

Palestinian activists, meanwhile, took to social media to protest the crackdown. The activists launched a hashtag titled “Political Detentions – A Crime” in which they focused their campaign on charges of torture in the Jericho Prison.

Last week, the PA security forces arrested Mohammed al-Asmar, a senior official with the PA Ministry of Agriculture. The man, who had previously spent 13 years in Israeli prisons for security-related offenses, announced that he was going on hunger strike to protest  his arrest. The PA did not give any reason for his arrest.

Another man detained by the PA security services, Dr. Moaz Saleh, is also reported to have been tortured at the Jericho Prison. Saleh, a resident of the city of Tulkarm in the northern West Bank, was arrested 29 days ago. No reason was given for his arrest.

On Friday, the family of Mohammed al-Rimawi said that their son was transferred to the Jericho Prison, where he is on a hunger strike. The family said that they hold the PA leadership responsible for the safety of their son.

Several other Palestinians were also arrested by the PA security services after the shooting attack on former Hamas minister Nasser al-Shaer near Nablus 10 days ago.

Shaer, a lecturer at An-Najah University, was shot in the legs while visiting the village of Kufr Kalil. The two assailants are said to be members of the ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.