The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) follows up with deep concern the use of violence and force by the police and security officers in Gaza to disperse a peaceful assembly organized by Fatah Movement in Palestine Square in Gaza City’s Center on Monday, 31 December 2018, in compurgation of the 54th anniversary of founding Fatah Movement and beating up the participants, including leading figures. PCHR also follows up with concern the arrest campaign carried out by the security services in the West Bank against dozens of civilians affiliated with Hamas Movement in Nablus, Jenin and Tubas. PCHR denounces those attacks and arrests and emphasizes that the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and political participation are rights guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law, particularly Articles 19 and 26, and shall not be prejudiced under any pretext. PCHR also calls upon the security services to completely stop the arrest and summons campaign on grounds of political affiliation.
According to PCHR’s investigation, on Monday, 31 December 2018, Fatah Movement in the Gaza Strip called their members to gather in Palestine Square to ignite the flame for the 54th anniversary of Founding Fatah Movement in spite of the arrest and summons campaign carried out by the security services against dozens of Fatah movement activists and preventing them from holding any activity for this occasion. At approximately 16:00, when dozens of activists gathered in Palestine Square to ignite the flame, police officers attacked them with batons and chased them. They beat up many of them, including women and leading figures such as Dr. Ibrahim Abu al-Najja, Gaza Governor, and detained a number of them, but released them later. A number of activists said to PCHR that they were attacked and beaten up with batons by the police officers. Buthainah Hamdi al-Sousi (62), Member of East Gaza Governorate Committee and Women’s Commissioner in the Governorate, said that police officers beaten her and other participants with batons. She added: “I was hit on my hands, shoulders and feet while Raghdah Shuhaibar, Member of a Governorate Committee as well, was hit on her head and face. Further, Siham Qalajah, Member of Governorate Leadership, was hit on her hand and feet while Yosor al-Atrash, a Governorate Member, was hit on her hands…”
On 30 and 31 December 2018, the Palestinian security services carried out arrest and summons campaigns against dozens of Fatah Movement members in the Gaza Strip, including members of governorate committees. They also detained them for varying periods, threatening them of holding any event to commemorate the 54th anniversary of the founding of Fatah Movement.
It should be noted that the security services in Gaza allowed the so-called “Reform Democratic Current” in Fatah Movement “Mohammed Dahlan Affiliates” to hold an event for commemorating the Fatah founding in the Central Gaza City, to ignite the flame, and stayed until late at night.
PCHR emphasizes that “personal freedom is a natural right that is ensured and cannot be prejudiced” according to the Palestinian Basic Law, which also prohibits “arresting , checking, detaining or restricting the movement of a person without a judicial warrant,” and “whoever is arrested or detained must be informed of the reasons of his arrest or detention;”
PCHR emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law and the international human rights standards;
PCHR stresses that the right to peaceful assembly only requires a written notification to be sent to a Police Director or the Governor according to Article 3 of the Public Meetings Law 12/1998. Moreover, Violating this condition is not enough for dispersing the demonstration or arresting the organizers unless the demonstration included riots;
PCHR stresses that calling for a demonstration does not constitute in any way a crime or basis for a summons even if the demonstration has not met the procedures; and
PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to intervene immediately to stop such summons campaigns without a warrant issued by the Public Prosecution and without any real basis that proves occurrence of a crime or an incident that requires a summons.