The Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the forcible dispersal of a peaceful assembly by the Palestinian security services organized by Hizb ut Tahrir (the Islamic Liberation Party) in Hebron. The security services later attacked, chased and arrested dozens of participants. 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 11:30 on Saturday, 04 February 2017, dozens of civilians and supporters of Hizb Ut Tahrir gathered in “Moraba’et Sabtah” area at the entrance of a land where Deir al- Mascobiya Church is established in Hebron. They protested against the Palestinian President’s decision to transfer the land’s ownership to the Church although the court’s preliminary decision issued on 23 June 2016 provided that the land belongs to 2 Palestinian civilians. The security services had completely closed the area. When the protestors arrived at the abovementioned area, the security officers directly fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a number of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation as some of them were transferred to nearby hospitals. The security services later arrested around 50 protestors in the abovementioned peaceful assembly; some of whom were detained at checkpoints established by the security services at the northern and southern entrances to Hebron. Their detention was extended for 24 hours.
Rohi Ya’qoub Abu Irmeilah, the endowment official responsible for the abovementioned church’s land, said that on 01 February 2017, a group of Hizb ut Tahrir members headed to the Hebron Governor’s office, Kamel Hmaid, to inform him about organizing a protest against the president’s decision regarding the Deir al-Maskoubiya Church’s land. However, the Governor refused to allow them to organize the assembly.
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 on 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 and sound bombs 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 and take necessary measures to stop such violations and to respect public and press 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 following the peaceful assembly.