The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses is concern regarding the arrest campaign waged by security services acting on behalf of the governments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These campaigns target members of the political opposition: Hamas activists have been arrested in the West Bank, while Fatah activists have been arrested in the Gaza Strip. PCHR reiterates its demand that both governments cease carrying out politically-motivated arrests, and immediately release all political prisoners.
PCHR is concerned that the arrests of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip may be a response to the armed clashes between security forces and the Izzidin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) in Qalqilya last week, and warns of a possible escalation.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, security services in the Gaza Strip — the police and the Internal Security Service — have arrested dozens of Fatah activists and former members of the Fatah-affiliated security services. The majority of the arrests took place on Saturday, 6 June 2009. According to families of the detainees and some eyewitnesses, the arrests were accompanied by house searches and the confiscation of mobile phones, computers and documents. Arrest warrants were presented in a limited number of the cases.
PCHR’s initial information reveals that:
- Three Fatah activists and former members of the Fatah-affiliated security services were arrested in Rafah.
- Fifteen Fatah activists and former members of the Fatah-affiliated security services were arrested in Khan Younis. Some of the detainees’ families reported that security officers showed arrest warrants.
- Eight Fatah activists and former members of the Fatah-affiliated security services were arrested in the central Gaza Strip.
- Twenty Fatah activists and former members of the Fatah-affiliated security services were arrested in Gaza City. Some of the detainees’ families reported that security officers showed arrest warrants.
- Seven Fatah activists and former members of the Fatah-affiliated security services were arrested in the northern Gaza Strip. Security services searched the house of Jamal Obaid, secretary of the Fatah movement in the northern Gaza Strip. They confiscated a computer set and documents related to the Fatah movement.
On Sunday, 7 June 2009, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza issued a statement on its website stating that the security services in Gaza had arrested a number of groups and cells seeking to undermine internal security.
In the West Bank, security services of the Palestinian government in Ramallah continued arrest campaigns against members of Islamic movements. In the past week, security services arrested at least 67 persons, including a number of women and journalists, and three members of Islamic Jihad.
According to Hamas, Palestinian security services in the West Bank have continued to detain at least 500 persons. This figure includes three women: Huda Rateb Maraba, the wife of Abdul Nasser al-Basha who was killed on 31 May 2009 in Qalqilya; Lina Hassan Hassanain; and the wife of Abdul Fattah Shraim, whose house witnessed the killing of two members of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) on 4 June 2009 in Qalqilya. The detainees also include Yousef Hassasna, from Hebron, correspondent of Iqra Television; and Mohammed Eshtaiwi, from Tulkarm, director of the office of al-Aqsa Television in the West Bank. The Preventive Security Service continues to detain Murad Abu al-Baha, director of the office of the Change and Reform Parliamentary Bloc who was arrested on 20 April 2009.
The detainees in the West Bank also include two lecturers — Maher Nour and Hamdan al-Sayed — and 13 students of Birzeit University. Arrests campaigns have recently been focused in Qalqilya, which witnessed armed clashes on 31 May and 4 June 2009; four members of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, four security officers and one civilian were killed in these clashes. Dozens of Hamas members, including imams of mosques, have been summoned for interrogation.
PCHR reiterates its condemnation of all politically-motivated arrests, and:
1) Reminds all parties of the Palestinian High Court of Justice ruling of 20 February 1999 which considered political arrests illegal; and calls upon all executive parties to respect the court ruling and refrain from conducting illegal political arrests.
2) Affirms that all forms of detention under the Palestinian Law are the mandate of judicial warranty bodies, represented by the civil police, working under instruction and supervision of the Attorney-General.
3) Calls for the immediate release of all political detainees held by security services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.