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July 14, 2022 4:05 pm

Palestinian Authority and Hamas Engage in ‘Widespread Torture’ of Detainees, Alleges NGO

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Palestinian police officers stand guard during a protest over the death of Nizar Banat, a critic of the Palestinian Authority, in Ramallah in the West Bank, June 26, 2021. Picture taken June 26, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group regularly detain and torture critics, failing to comply with an international convention against the practice, the UN Watch NGO charged in a report.

Both have carried out “different types of torture … including torture against women, LGBT persons, political opponents, so-called ‘collaborators,’ [and] Palestinians who sell land to Jews, and Israelis,” the Geneva-based watchdog group wrote in the report.

The report was submitted ahead of next week’s meeting of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, set to examine Palestinian compliance with the UN convention against torture and other barred forms of punishment.

“Evidence continues to emerge of widespread torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees held in Palestinian custody in the West Bank and Gaza,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, in a statement. “We trust that our collection of evidence and harrowing testimonies will assist the UN committee experts next week when they review whether the PA has followed through on its promises to eradicate the use of torture.”

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UN Watch said the report will be presented to the UN committee, composed of 10 independent experts, during a private briefing with human rights groups on July 18, the day before a discussion with a PA delegation on adhering to the 2014 UN treaty on torture.

The use of “routine” torture allegedly inflicted by the Fatah-led PA in the West Bank includes beatings, solitary confinement, feet whipping, threats and taunts, and forcing detainees into various painful positions for extended periods, according to the NGO.

It alleged that representatives of the LGBTQ community suffer from “severe persecution and ostracism” by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

“They arrested me, hanged me from the ceiling, beat me up and interrogated me for five days,” an unnamed gay Palestinian from Gaza, who lives in exile in Turkey, was quoted as saying.

Another unnamed gay man from Gaza stated in the report: “Some have been punished, some have been killed. Others killed themselves.”

Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel are tortured by both the PA and by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where authorities employ beatings, put out cigarettes on their bodies, pull out their teeth, force them into painful positions and abuse their genitals, the watchdog report said.

One example cited is the case of Palestinian-American Suha Jbara, who testified that PA agents tortured her in late 2018 for “collaboration” with Israel.

“The interrogator also threatened me with rape and started beating me. He said he knows how to beat me without leaving signs on my body. The interrogation and beating lasted all night,” Jbara was quoted as saying.

In another example of alleged abuse cited, PA security forces in May 2021 arrested dozens of activists and students accused of “stirring up sectarian and racial strife,” and were tortured at a prison in Jericho known as the “slaughterhouse.”

Last month, Human Rights Watch published a report accusing Palestinian authorities of systematically mistreating and torturing detained Palestinians, including critics and opponents, which the NGO said could be considered as crimes against humanity, calling for an investigation by the International Criminal Court.

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