The Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the Palestinian security services’ forcible dispersal of a peaceful protest organized by Hizb ut Tahrir (the Islamic Liberation Party) in Hebron. During the protest, the security officers attacked the participants with batons, arrested them, heavily fired tear gas canisters and shot in the air. PCHR calls for a serious investigation into such attacks and bringing perpetrators to justice. PCHR further stresses that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:30 on Saturday, 25 February 2017, dozens of Hizb Ut Tahrir Members gathered in the area of “Ibin Rushd” Intersection in Hebron after submitting a written request to the Hebron Police Chief before 48 hours of organizing the protest. The protest was organized against the continued the Palestinian security services’ arrest of Hizb Ut Tahrir supporters and members on grounds of a peaceful protest organized by the Party two weeks ago in Moraba’a Sebtah area in the City to call for an end to the Palestinian President’s decision to transfer the land’s ownership to the Church.
According to the follow-up by PCHR’s fieldworkers, since the morning the Palestinian security services established checkpoints on all the roads leading to Hebron and linking its villages. They checked civilians’ ID cards and detained some of them. At approximately 11:00, dozens of Palestinian security officers arrived at Ibin Rushd Intersection, where the protest was supposed to be organized, and closed it. They declared the area as a military zone and closed the road leading to al-Manar intersection in the center of the main market in the City and the road leading to King Faisal Road. The presence of the security officers continued until 12:30 until the protestors arrived at al-Manarah Intersection. After verbal altercations, the security officers attacked the protestors with batons and sticks and fired gas canisters at them from a distance of around 10 meters. The area was teeming with shoppers while the security officers heavily shot in the air. As a result, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation while many protestors were arrested and beaten up with batons. PCHR’s fieldworkers saw the security officers beating the protestors with batons. Around70 shops were then closed in the center of the City Market due to the heavy firing of tear gas canisters. After dispersing the protest, the security officers attacked civilians, who gathered in the area, with batons without apparent reason.
In light of the above-mentioned, PCHR stresses that the right to peaceful assembly is constitutionally guaranteed under Article 26 (5) of the Palestinian Basic Law and the Public Meetings Law No. 12 /1998.
- Calls upon the Attorney General to investigate those incidents occurred in Hebron, including attacking civilians and firing tear gas canisters at them, inspect the security officers’ violations, and hold those responsible accountable;
- Calls upon the government in Ramallah to respect law and civilian’s dignity, take necessary measures to stop such violations and to respect public freedoms that are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards; and
- Calls upon security services to release all protestors who were arrested in the peaceful assembly.