The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas use systematic torture and repression to stifle any dissent against their rule, a two-year investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) found.
The PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza conduct arbitrary detentions targeting people who criticized them, using broad legislation prohibiting activities seen as promoting “sectarian strife” or offending “higher authorities.”
Several PA agencies, including the Intelligence Services and Joint Security Committee, implement violent crackdowns on dissent and stifle many freedoms of expression and association, the HRW report said. Critics, from journalists to social media users, routinely are arrested in an effort to spread fear across Palestinian society and deter future activism.
For example, 10 PA security personnel detained a Hebron-based activist last year, only one hour after he used Facebook to criticize the arrest of a journalist.
Like Hamas, PA forces also detain activists engaging in peaceful demonstrations against governing authorities. University students and supporters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ main rival Muhammad Dahlan are frequently persecuted.