Rare: UN High Commissioner details abuses of PA & Hamas against Palestinians

When it comes to UN reporting on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is usually the case that Israel is mostly criticized, with a brief reference in the end calling for Hamas to stop firing missiles and rockets against Israeli civilians. However, a recent report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, apart from listing Israel’s alleged violations, it dealt in great detail on the serious human rights violations of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority against their own people, regular Palestinian civilians. Some of the main findings are provided below.

This report also reveals the great protection gap that exists in the UN system with regards to the rights of the Palestinian people, as the so-called Special Rapporteur on Palestine only looks at Israel’s actions and has no mandate to examine violations committed by the PA or Hamas.

One of the dubious parts of the report however was quoting former Special Rapporteur on violence against women Yakin Erturk, who, in 2005, bizarrely blamed Israelis for the  fact that Palestinians maltreat their wives. Scapegoating is an old sport and playing the blame game only finds excuses for abusers not to take action.

Violations by Hamas against Palestinians (November 2012 to November 2013)

  • Palestinians were also victims of Hamas indiscriminate rocket fire. Hamas fired 65 rockets and 15 mortar shells from Gaza towards Israel, with an additional 19 rockets and five mortars landing within Gaza and 20 rockets exploding at the launching site. The rockets are indiscriminate and a violation of international law.
  • No measures have been taken to investigate violations of international humanitarian law by Hamas or other armed groups in Gaza, including the direct targeting of civilians and the indiscriminate firing of rockets towards Israel.
  • Widespread cases of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment.
  • Many detainees were subjected to shabeh (stress position for extended periods of time) and sleep deprivation, with their heads covered with a bag up to a few weeks.
  • Members of political parties, journalists, social media activists and academics were arbitrarily detained. They were ill-treated and, in some cases, tortured because of opinions expressed through different media platforms, including social media, and their involvement in activities considered to be political and against Hamas or their policies.
  • Restrictions to the enjoyment of the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion and of peaceful assembly.
  • Dispersion of a number of peaceful demonstrations using excessive or unnecessary force.
  • Since 2008, Hamas courts have issued 60 and upheld eight death sentences previously issued by the courts of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.Hamas executed three persons, bringing to a total of 17 the number of executions since its takeover of Gaza.
  • Denial of the right to receive legal assistance, the use of ill-treatment and torture during interrogations and violations of the right to a fair trial by both civilian and military courts of persons later sentenced to death.

 

Violations by the Palestinian Authority against Palestinians (November 2012 to November 2013)

  • Arrest and questioning of journalists for work deemed to be critical of the PA.
  • Palestinians arrested for distributing political leaflets, branding this action as criminal.
  • Dispersion of a number of peaceful demonstrations using excessive or unnecessary force, some resulting in deaths.
  • Arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of detainees including detainees linked to political opposition groups.
  • Lack of effective and transparent investigation into cases of unlawful killing, torture and ill-treatment involving the Palestinian security forces.
  • Lack of measures to curtail widespread cases of violence against women, including “honour killings,” and dozens of cases of gender-based killings.

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