On Monday evening, 7 October 2019, the Internal Security Apparatus (ISA) in Gaza summoned and detained four members of a committee formed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) government and commissioned to update public servants’ records in the Gaza Strip.
Khalid Nasr, 54, a public servant at the Ministry of Finance and a member of the committee, was summoned to the ISA office in Rafah on Monday evening where he was detained and questioned about the committee’s work before being released. Later that evening, Khalid was arrested again from his house by ISA agents and taken once more to their Rafah office where he was questioned another time and asked to hand over his personal computer and documents. At around 11pm, he was accompanied home by ISA agents to seize the computer and documents before being taken for the third time to ISA’s Rafah office. He was released later that night on condition of appearing for questioning the next morning; his personal computer and documents remained in possession of the ISA.
Another three members of the committee received summonses from ISA on Monday evening and appeared at ISA Gaza office on Tuesday morning to answer the summons. Rashid Sha'at, 47, deputy director at the Ministry of Interior; Mo’een Abdul-Salam, 57, official at the Civil Servants Bureau; and Mohammed Shehab, 44, from the Ministry of Finance, were all held and questioned. They were released at around 8pm Tuesday evening on condition of appearing for questioning the next morning.
The Palestinian Ministry of Finance in Ramallah issued a statement stressing that committee’s mandate is in line with PA government’s directives which aim to eliminate any discrepancies in public servants’ records resulting from lack of updates in the past four years. In response, the spokesman of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza stated that the committee was collecting information “beyond what is relevant to public servants” and its members were only brought in to take their statements before being released, adding that none of the committee’s members were in custody.
In recent years, the PA punitive measures against Gaza, which included sweeping cuts to public servants’ salaries and enforcing early retirement on thousands of them, have played a major role in deepening the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights regrets the continuation of politically-motivated arrests which have been the hallmark of the Palestinian internal schism, and calls for the immediate release of all committee members who —considering the public interest— should be allowed to complete their work without disruption.
Al Mezan calls on all Palestinian actors to put an end to the political division as it remains the main driver behind a plethora of human rights violations committed by Palestinian entities, and contributes to the severe deterioration of humanitarian conditions. Al Mezan also calls on the PA to end its punitive measures against public servants in the Gaza Strip and restore their rights on equal basis with their colleagues in the West Bank.