Steve Weizman, AFP
Last updated: 17 May, 2011

Palestinian rights body slams Fatah, Hamas and Israel

Palestinians face human rights abuses by Israel, the government of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian rights group said on Tuesday.

In its annual report for 2010, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights accused the Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza of using torture and arbitrary arrests to suppress dissent.

“The year 2010 witnessed an almost systematic campaign against the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, as well as against civil society organisations in general and human rights organisations in particular,” the group said.

“In addition to such violations, the practice of torture, arrest and/or arbitrary detention in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued,” the report released Tuesday said.

The commission was created by presidential decree and submits its findings to Abbas and the Palestinian parliament but has autonomy in its work.

The report calls on Hamas to stop carrying out executions in its territory, and for Abbas’s Fatah movement, which dominates the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, to end media censorship and cease political vetting of candidates for public sector posts.

But the group said the single factor most hampering Palestinian rights was Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

“Ongoing Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territory, and its aggressive policies in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem continued to constitute the major cause of the deterioration of human rights situation in the Palestinian territory during 2010,” the report said.

It said that Israeli policies hampered efforts by the Palestinian Authority “to fulfil its duties and legal responsibilities in the areas under its jurisdiction, ensure safety and security to the Palestinian citizens and to impose the rule of law.”

“The state of occupation… undermines (the PA’s) effort to impose the rule of law, by invading the Palestinian cities, detaining and assassinating Palestinian citizens, it added.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and largely-Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, unilaterally annexing east Jerusalem shortly after.

In 2005, it pulled out of the Gaza Strip but retained control of its air and maritime space and kept a chokehold on movement of people and goods across Israel’s land border with the coastal territory.

In 2007, Hamas seized control of the strip from Fatah after days of bloody fighting following the Islamist group’s surprise electoral victory a year earlier.

The fighting led to retaliation by both groups against rival members in the West Bank and Gaza, and the two groups remained bitter enemies until last month when they announced a reconciliation agreement.

Last year, Hamas started carrying out death sentences, executing two men for collaborating with Israel and three people for murder. This month it executed another man convicted of collaboration by a military tribunal.

“Imposing death sentences by Palestinian courts, particularly military ones, constitutes a grave violation of the right to life and fair trial,” the rights report said.