At 7:30pm on Saturday, 23 February 2019, the security in Gaza dispersed a peaceful protest organized by members of the Fatah Movement near Al-Hawaja roundabout in Jabalia refugee camp in North Gaza. The protesters came out in support of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to which the security forces responded with a campaign of detentions and summoning orders.
Documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that over 90 persons affiliated with Fatah were instructed to appear in the security and internal security apparatus offices in different areas after having received summons orders by phone or in writing. Those summoned were interrogated over their political opinions and their social media participation as supporters of President Abbas. Some of those summoned were brutally beaten and verbally abused, while others were kept in detention. A number of them were also released but handed written orders to appear at the security apparatus office again the following day.
Hasan Al-Wali, 52, provided the following testimony:
“I suffer from diabetes and kidney [failure]. On Monday, 25th February 2019, I went to the internal security apparatus office in Al-Shaikh Zayed city in the North Gaza district as per a written summons order I had received. I was blind-folded and verbally abused and brutally beaten. I was then interrogated over my personal opinions as expressed on my Facebook page, especially those in which I expressed support for President Abbas. When I asked the security personnel to transfer me to a hospital, they mocked me and did not transfer me. At 2:30pm, I was released but only on the condition that I would come again the next day. I took a taxi to Al-Awda Hospital in North Gaza and received medical treatment there.”
Al Mezan condemns the continued practice by local authorities of detaining residents for political reasons, and expresses deep concern at the violation of Fatah supporters’ rights to freedom of opinion, speech, association, and peaceful assembly; freedom from arbitrary detention and ill-treament or torture—rights enshrined in Palestinian law and protected per Palestine’s legal obligations under international law. The denial of these rights on political grounds serves to exacerbate the internal division among Palestinians and further aggravate the human rights situation of Palestinians.
Al Mezan calls on competent authorities in Gaza to immediately cease all detentions, summons orders, and attacks on peaceful protesters, and to comply with the due process when engaging in summoning or detention of citizens.
Al Mezan reiterates its calls on Palestinian authorities and political powers to work together, in good faith, to end the internal division, which is the main instigator of a wide range of human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, and to promote human rights and liberties for all Palestinian citizens. In doing so, the rule of law must be upheld and rights and freedoms respected.