Ref: 131/2007

PCHR strongly condemns the abduction and torture of Issa Hammad, an activist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in Beach Camp by unknown gunmen. The Centre renews the call to the dismissed government in Gaza these illegal acts and to prosecute its perpetrators.

The Center’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 20:30 on Sunday, 30 September 2007, Issa Fawzi Hammad (43) from Beach Camp in Gaza City was heading to open his store. A white vehicle stopped in front of the shop, and 4 masked gunmen got out and surrounded Hammad. At gunpoint, they dragged Hammad into the vehicle and sped away.

Hammad informed PCHR that the gunmen tied his hands behind his back and put a sack over his head. However, he was able to see that the gunmen took him to El-Mashtal detention center, run by El-Qassam Battalions, to the north of Beach Camp. He added that the gunmen beat him with sticks as soon as he got out of the car and was taken to a room inside the detention center. During the interrogation over weapon-possession, Hammad was beaten, tortured, and humiliated. His head and mustache were shaved. After an hour and quarter, Hammad was informed that he will be released. He was dragged with his hands tied from the room to a car. He was beaten on the back and shoulders as he was dragged. A car took him and released him in the Twam area north of El-Mashtal. After his captor released him, several people came and untied Hammad and took him to the hospital for treatment.

After the abduction, several people gathered and demonstrated in Shuhada Square in Beach Camp. They burned tires and put them in streets to protest. The Executive Force intervened and dispersed the demonstrators, and arrested 3 of them. All were released later.

PCHR strongly condemns the abduction and torture of Issa Hammad, and:

      Affirms that these illegal actions are a continuation of the security chaos plaguing the OPT.

      Calls upon the dismissed government to investigate the attacks and prosecute the perpetrators.

      Reminds that torture is outlawed by Palestinian Law, and does not fall by seniority; and that torture is a serious violation of human rights and international human rights standards, including the UN Convention against Torture.

      Condemns the continued role of El-Qassam Battalions in carrying out illegal arrests. The Centre calls for an immediate stoppage to these acts and for closing all Battalions’ detention centers. The Centre affirms that the Battalions are not a law-enforcement agency; and is not authorized to deal in civilian matters.

      Affirms that arrests are regulated by Palestinian Law and are the authority of law-enforcement parties, represented by the civilian police under orders and supervision of the Attorney-General.