Ref: 58/2015

 

The Palestinian Center for
Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the use of force by the Palestinian police and
security services to disperse a peaceful demonstration organized in Bethlehem
against the latest Israeli attacks against
al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.  PCHR also condemns storming Ramsat Media office,
in Nablus, and arresting and questioning 3 journalists and the brother of one
of them in the Preventive Security Service (PSS) office in the city. PCHR
condemns these attacks and stresses that the right to peaceful assembly is
guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and relevant international standards.

 

According to investigations
conducted by PCHR, following the Friday prayer, 18 September 2015, dozens of
Palestinian civilians from all over Bethlehem gathered near al-‘Izzah refugee
camp, north of the city, to organize a protest against the Israeli attacks against
al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. When the demonstration started
moving towards Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque (Rachel Tomb), the Palestinian police and
security services stationed at the entrance of the camp stopped the
demonstration and forcibly dispersed the protestors.  The Palestinian security services then fired tear
gas canisters against protestors to prevent them from heading to the (Rachel’s
Tomb). In response, a number of demonstrators tried to resist, but they were
beaten and pushed. Additionally, other protestors threw stones and empty
bottles towards the police officers, who in response fired gas canisters
heavily.  The police officers also used live
bullets while chasing youngsters in the alleys of the camp. The security
members then arrested 3 protestors and took them to the Presidential Compound
(al-Moqata’ah) in Ramallah. One of the arrested persons was identified as
Abdullah Younis Hammad. In the meantime, ‘Abed al-Hai Abu Sorour (26) from
‘Aida refugee camp sustained wounds and bruises to the head and leg and was
taken to the Arab Society Hospital to receive medical treatment. Moreover, Helmi
al-Qaisi (28) was beaten when he was in front of his shop in al-‘Izaah refugee
camp.  As a result, he was wounded to his
back.  Furthermore, a video posted on
YouTube showed Palestinian police officers beating Mahmoud Redwan Hamamrah (17)
from Beit Sahour village with batons.  As
a result, he sustained various wounds and bruises throughout his body.  It should be mentioned that Mahmoud is the
son of Radwan Hamamra, a lieutenant colonel in the Palestinian police.

 

The spokesman of the
Palestinian Security Services, Brigadier ‘Adnan al-Damiry, stated that the
Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Ramy al-Hamdallah, formed a committee to
investigate the incident in order to take deterrent legal measures against anyone
who practiced violence against civilians in violation of law.

 

In Nablus, dozens of
Palestinian civilians organized a similar demonstration heading from the city’s
mosques towards al-Shuhada intersection in the center of the city. In the
meantime, a number of security officers in uniform and others in plain clothes,
who identified themselves as members of the PSS raided Ramast Media office on
the fifth floor in Kanaze’a building at the aforementioned intersection.  It should be mentioned that Tareq Abed
al-Razeq (39), correspondent of the Al-Aqsa Satellite Channel; Mojahed Mohammed
al-Sa’di (26), correspondent of the Palestine Today Satellite Channel; and Mothana
al-Deek (25), an editor in Ramasat Media office and his brother, ‘Abdel Elah
(16), who was visiting him, were at that moment in the office.  After that, a police officer told the
aforementioned persons that they are under arrest and asked them for their ID
cards.  He also confiscated their cell
phones and then took them to the street. 
They were put inside a security jeep belonging to the PSS, and were
eventually taken them to the PSS office in Jabl al-Tour, south of the city,
where they were questioned about their work as journalists, and if they covered
the demonstration. After their personal information was verified and their cell
phones were searched to ensure they did not photograph anything, the
aforementioned detainees were released at approximately 17:30 on the same day.    

 

 

In this context, CHR emphasizes that: 

– The right to peaceful
assembly is ensured under Article 26 Paragraph 5 of the Palestinian Basic Law,
and under the 1998 Public Meetings Law No.12.

– Article 27 of the
Palestinian Basic Law guarantees media freedoms under the Palestinian
Authority, and Article 19 of the Law ensures the right to freedom of opinion
and expression.

 

Accordingly, PCHR:

1- Calls
upon the Attorney General to investigate these attacks and bring the
perpetrators before justice;

2- Calls
upon the competent authorities in the West Bank to take necessary measures to
stop such violations of human rights and to respect public and press freedoms
that are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights
standards.

3- Calls
upon security services to respect human rights that are ensured under the
national laws and relevant international standards.