PCHR Condemns Ongoing Summonses and Arrests of Fatah Movement Members in Gaza

Within the last 2 days, the Internal Security Service in the Gaza Strip carried out a large-scale campaign of arrests and summonses targeting dozens of Fatah Movement Members upon calls for commemorating the 54th anniversary of founding Fatah Movement on Monday, 07 January 2019.  Those members were also threatened of holding any event in this regard in al-Saraya Square in Gaza City.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns these summonses and emphasizes that the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and political participation are rights guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law, particularly Articles 19 and 26, and shall not be prejudiced under any pretext.  PCHR also calls upon the security services to completely stop the arrest and summons campaign on grounds of political affiliation.

According to PCHR’s investigations, the summons campaign carried out by the security services within the last 2 days has targeted dozens of Fatah Members throughout the Gaza Strip, including Revolutionary Council Members, secretaries, members of governorate and area committees, and other activists.  Moreover, many activists were arrested from their houses; some of which were searched, while their laptops and personal belongings were confiscated.  The activists were told they are not allowed to hold the celebration tomorrow while some of them were forced to sign pledges on this in the Internal Security offices.  Further, the security services released some of the arrestees while some of them were asked to refer to another Internal Security office.  Meanwhile, other activists are so far under arrest in inhumane conditions.

On 30 and 31 December 2018, the Internal Security Service carried out a similar campaign targeting dozens of Fatah Members one day before the calls for commemorating the 54th anniversary of the Movement’s founding and igniting the flame in Gaza City Square on 01 January.  The security services at the time attacked those participating in the peaceful assembly in the Gaza Square and beat them up, including leading figures and women.

PCHR expresses its concern over summoning dozens of Fatah activists.  Thus, PCHR:

  1. Emphasizes that “personal freedom is a natural right that is ensured and cannot be prejudiced” according to the Palestinian Basic Law, which also prohibits “arresting , checking, detaining or restricting the movement of a person without a judicial warrant,” and “whoever is arrested or detained must be informed of the reasons of his arrest or detention;”
  2. Emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law and the international human rights standards;
  3. Stresses that the right to peaceful assembly only requires a written notification to be sent to a Police Director or the Governor according to Article 3 of the Public Meetings Law 12/1998. Moreover, Violating this condition is not enough for dispersing the demonstration or arresting the organizers unless the demonstration included riots;
  4. Stresses that calling for a demonstration does not constitute in any way a crime or basis for a summons even if the demonstration has not met the procedures;
  5. Calls upon the Attorney General to intervene immediately to stop such summons campaigns without a warrant issued by the Public Prosecution and without any real basis that proves occurrence of a crime or an incident that requires a summons; and
  6. Calls upon security services in the Gaza Strip to respect the Palestinian Law and Public Freedoms and comply with the Criminal Procedure Law.