PCHR is Deeply Concerned over the Summons and Arrest Campaign Launched by the ISS against Dozens of Civilians in the Gaza Strip

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Press Releases, 13 November 2013

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the summons and arrest campaign launched by the Internal Security Service (ISS) against dozens of persons, including members of Fatah movement and children, in the Gaza Strip in the past few weeks. This campaign included sometimes torture and degrading treatment. PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to fully abide by the law and stop summonses and arrests on political grounds. PCHR as well calls upon the Attorney General in Gaza to open serious investigations into claims by released persons that they were subject to torture.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR during the past period and statements of victims, the ISS and the Palestinian Police (the Investigation Service) summoned dozens of civilians, including members of Fatah movement and children across the Gaza Strip.

Since the beginning of this week, these have been increasing summonses in coincide with the approach of the call of Tamarrud (Rebellion) Campaign on 11 November 2013 and the anniversary of the death the late President Yasser ‘Arafat.  The summoned persons were held for long hours and sometimes on daily basis under degrading conditions and cruel treatment while other persons were detained for a couple of days.  These summonses were accompanied with house raids and searches of the houses of these persons and confiscation of their computers and other stuff.

In their testimonies, a number of detained persons who were released later stated to PCHR that during investigations, they were forced to sign oaths to abide by law, not to assemble (participation in demonstrations), not to be in areas of friction with the police, and not to incite people against the government, otherwise they will be legally liable and financially fined.  Others also said that they were subject to torture, including being hit on hands and feet by a stick; punched all over their bodies; shackled; and forced to stand for long hours.  In the same context, PCHR received statements from persons who were summoned on consecutive days waiting for long hour before investigations or interviews by security officers.

One of the released detainees stated to PCHR that upon his arrival at the ISS office on 09 November 2013, they blindfolded him and sat him on a small seat.  He added that a security officer forced him to sit on his knees on the ground, held his hands and strongly pulled them back.  Meanwhile, another officer came and started interrogating him about Tamarrud movement and his activism in Fatah movement.  The released detainee said that the investigation was accompanied with punches in the abdomen and chest, and that he was transferred to a small room, where there was an iron chair and a video camera.  He was then forced to stand in the room and left in this condition until the next day afternoon.

Another one stated to PCHR that during the officers’ investigation about his alleged activism in Tamarrud movement, he was blindfolded and hit on his hands and feet with a stick.  The officers tightened his hands to a small iron tube horizontally placed under his knees while he was lying on his back on the floor.  They then started sporadically beating him for around two hours.

A third one said that upon his arrival at the ISS office in Khan Younis, security officers blindfolded him and transferred him to an interrogation room.  He added that he underwent an approximately 2-hour investigation, during which he was hit on the face and chest by the officers, and was questioned about his political affiliation, his work, and Tamarrud campaign.

The latest summonses targeted Fatah movement leaders in the northern Gaza Strip and other Fatah movement activists in other governorates as they underwent investigations about the movement’s preparations for organizing events in commemoration of the late President Yasser ‘Arafat’s death.

It should be mentioned that the past two months have witnessed significant increase in summonses and arrests against dozens of civilians, including children, on the grounds of the call of “Tamarrud” campaign.  In the same context, a number of children in Rafah received summonses by the Anti-Drug Service.  When families of the children referred to the Anti-Drug Service, they found out that they were wanted by the ISS and they were being transferred by the Anti-Drug Services.  A 16-year old child’s father said to the PCHR staff that he received two summonses for his son by the Anti-Drug Services.  He added that he accompanied his son to the Anti-Drug office, where he met with the chief officer after waiting for half an hour to ask about the reason behind the summons of his son, and he was informed that his child was wanted by the ISS.  An ISS vehicle arrived and transferred him to the ISS office.

PCHR expresses its deep concern over these incidents, and:

1.     Points out that the way the summonses are conducted reflects the arbitrary use of law by the security service officers;

2.     Calls upon the government in Gaza to abide by law and completely stop summonses and arrests on political grounds;

3.     Calls upon the Attorney General to open a serious investigation into the severe beating of one of the detainees by security officers;

4.     Reminds of the Palestinian High Court of Justice ruling on 20 February 1999, which considers political detention illegal and demands all executive authorities to respect the Court’s ruling and stop illegal political arrests; and

5.     Calls upon Palestinian security services to fully comply with the constitution and other relevant laws and to respect human rights.