PA police try to break-up demonstration in Ramallah, Sunday 1 July. Photo Occupied Palestine
PCHR Strongly Condemns the Use of Force against Peaceful Demonstrations in Ramallah
Media Release, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
July 02, 2012
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the use of force by the Palestinian police, backed by security services, to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized by dozens of Palestinians on Saturday, 30 June 2012, and Sunday, 01 July 2012, in protest of a planned visit by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, and leader of the Kadima Party, Shaul Mofaz to Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian President. PCHR further condemns the accompanying attacks on media professionals and threats to civil society activists in Ramallah. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian police in Ramallah to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful assembly, which are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR and statements given by eyewitnesses, at approximately 17:00 on Saturday, 30 June 2012, dozens of Palestinians gathered to organize a peaceful demonstration near al-Manara Square in the center of Ramallah, in protest of a planned visit by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz to Ramallah to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas. The demonstrators walked towards the presidential compound, but the Palestinian police stopped them. As the demonstrators arrived near the Bir Zeit public transport station in al-Ersal Street which leads to theal-Muqata’ah (the presidential compound), police officers and members of the security services in civilian clothes used clubs to beat demonstrators and media professionals. As a result, a number of demonstrators and media professionals sustained bruises. In addition, members of the General Investigations Service (GIS) arrested 7 Palestinians, including journalist Mohammed Yasser Jaradat, who was severely beaten in the GIS Headquarters although he told the GIS that he is a journalist. Jaradat was transferred to the Palestine Medical Compound for medical treatment. The other protestors were released 2 hours later.
At approximately 17:00 on Sunday, 01 July 2012, dozens of Palestinians gathered to organize a peaceful demonstration near al-Manara Square in the center of Ramallah, in protest of the attacks that took place the previous day. As the demonstrators walked towards the presidential compound and arrived near the Bir Zeit public transport station, police officers and members of the security services in civilian clothes used clubs to beat demonstrators and media professionals. As a result, 8 Palestinians, including 4 media professionals, sustained bruises. In addition, members of the GIS arrested 3 Palestinians, including Ahmed Mesleh (27), a freelance journalist. The protestors were released 30 minutes later.
PCHR’s fieldworker in Ramallah reported that GIS members and police officers tried to confiscate Mesleh’s camera, and threatened to beat him, even though he told them that he is a journalist. Eyewitnesses reported that the Chief of Police in Ramallah and al-Bireh Colonel Abdul Latif Qaddoumi and his assistant, Mohammed Abu Bakr, were present and participated in the use of force against the demonstrators.
PCHR notes that Shaul Mofaz served as the IDF Chief of Staff between 09 July 1998 and 09 July 2002. Under his command, the Israeli Army implemented “Operation Defensive Shield” in the West Bank. This Operation, which started on 29 March 2002, resulted, inter alia, in the massacre in Jenin refugee camp in the north of the West Bank. On 04 November 2002, Mofaz was appointed as the Israeli Defense Minister. When he was serving in these 2 positions, the Israeli occupation forces committed many war crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians. PCHR has filed several cases before a number of European courts against Mofaz for his responsibility for such crimes.
PCHR strongly condemns the use of force against the 2 peaceful demonstrations and:
1. Strongly condemns the prevention of the organization of peaceful demonstrations and the use of force to disperse demonstrators, and stresses that Palestinians have a legal right to public meetings and to organize peaceful protests.
2. Reiterates that the right to peaceful assembly (public meetings) is ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.
3. The visit of Mofaz to Ramallah and receiving of him in the Palestinian presidential compound constitutes, if they take place, a total disregard for the feelings of the Palestinian people and an official denial of victims’ rights and the suffering of victims’ families.
July 2, 2012
RAMALLAH — Palestinian activists on Monday called for the Palestinian Authority to dismiss the head of police in Ramallah after two days of protests in the city were forcefully dispersed.
The Palestinians for Dignity [PfD formation and aims] group also called for the dismissal of the director the police headquarters in the city.
The police’s treatment of journalists — including one Palestinian reporter who says he was beaten by forces while in custody at the headquarters — has been criticized by media freedom groups.
The PA Minister of Interior Said Abu Ali said Monday he will form a committee to investigate clashes at the demonstrations, which gathered on Saturday to protest a scheduled meeting of the president with the Israeli deputy premier, and regrouped Sunday to rally against police brutality at the prior demonstration.
Palestinians for Dignity called on the PA to form an independent committee of legal figures to investigate the incident. It stressed that those who violate journalist rights and public freedoms should be punished.
The group vowed to continue peaceful protests against negotiations with Israel.
The Ramallah talks with Shaul Mofaz, set for Sunday, were called off after plans to protest the event were announced, but Israeli and Palestinian officials gave conflicting accounts of why.
A Fatah leader cited Palestinian public opinion while Israeli media said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tensions with Mofaz played a role.
Kawther Salam, Occupied Palestine
July 2, 2012
In a serious development in Palestine, hundreds of young revolutionary Palestinian women demonstrated yesterday Saturday and today Sunday July 1 2012 against the Palestinian Authority dictatorial regime and the use of the PA “security” gangs to brutally suppress the freedom of expression and opinion in Ramallah.
On Saturday 30 June 2012, the peaceful demonstrators were protesting against “president” Abbas scheduled meeting with Israeli war criminal and vice premier Shaul Mofaz. They chanted “leave us, down down Abbas and down down with the Palestinian military rule”.
The cowardly criminal Shaul Mofaz cancelled his assistance to the meeting with Abbas due to “security reasons” – this coward who was involved in thousands of murders and assorted atrocities against Palestinians was scared of a couple of peaceful protesters.
The demonstrators gathered in central Ramallah and tried to march on the Moqataa. They were confronted by thousands of elements of the PA intelligence, police, security and preventive intelligence and national security, among them the police chief of Ramallah and Al Bireh, Lt. Col. Abdul Latif. The forces surrounded all the streets and ways around Al-Manara Square in order to cut the way of the demonstrators from reaching Mamoud Abbas resident, the so-called Al-Moqata’a.
Hundreds of PA elements in civil infiltrated among the demonstrators in order to capture them. They kicked the demonstrators and beat them seriously in an attempt to prevent them from reaching the headquarters of the PA at Al-Moqata’a. Dozens of demonstrators were injured and had to be hospitalized as a result of their injuries, while many other activists were detained by PA security forces. According to eye witnesses, the PA used the fire weapons and shot at a leader of Fatah who was present at the demonstrations, Mr. Shami Al-Shami, in a leg. According to the same sources, shooting Mr. Al-Shami was a threat to him by the PA in order to make him stop his support for the protesters.
The Palestinian protesters said that today Sunday July 1 2012, security forces used brutal tactics during the second day of the demonstrations and protests against the PA policies. The Palestinian Police attacked the protesters with batons, beating and injuring dozens. Dozens of protesters were taken to police stations along with two journalists. The journalists were attacked while covering the protests because the police was not happy that their brutal attacks were being documented.
EI blogger who witnessed Palestinian Authority police beating protestor forced to destroy photos
By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
July 01, 2012
Electronic Intifada blogger Jalal Abukhater was forced to delete photos he took of Palestinian Authority (PA) police violently attacking a protestor in Ramallah on Sunday.
Abukhater wrote this account of what he witnessed:
After the police started pushing and beating protestors with sticks and batons, I managed to slip behind their line to be met with another line of police only a few meters behind. There, I was alone with my camera, I saw a guy lying on the ground being beaten by the police behind their line, I tried to take a picture but my camera was then confiscated.
I was forced to delete all the pictures on my camera by the police, then my camera’s SD card was destroyed to pieces. The guy who was being beaten by the police managed to stand up – he was visibly bleeding – he was then slapped and dragged to the nearby police vehicle. However, he was released from detention and moved to a hospital for his injuries to be treated.
However, Abukhater identified a photo of the man whose beating he witnessed, covered with welts and bruises on his back, posted on Facebook.
Other images posted by a Facebook page called Palestinians for Dignity showed police confronting demonstrators, and other individuals with apparent injuries.
Injuries and arrests as PA attacks Palestinian civilians
The violence in Ramallah occurred when PA forces attacked Palestinian civilians protesting against PA policies.
Ma’an News Agency reported:
Palestinian protesters said security forces used brutal force Sunday during the second demonstration in as many days protesting Palestinian Authority policy.
Police attacked protesters with batons, beating and injuring at least seven people. Another seven protesters were taken to a police station along with at least two journalists, a Ma’an correspondent said.
Protesters shouted against police brutality, and the police responded by beating them. Journalists were also attacked for the second day in a row, the correspondent reported.
The reporter said Reuters photographer Saed al-Hawari was attacked and photographer Ahmad Musleh was arrested. A camera belonging to journalist Ahmad Ouda was confiscated.
Another Palestinian journalist told Ma’an that a police officer tried to hit his camera, and when he defended himself, grabbed him by the neck. While the police officer was removed by colleagues, he warned the journalist: “I will see you another day.”
“It was more crazy than yesterday, you can’t imagine – they hit girls and were laughing like they don’t care about Palestinians,” the journalist said.
Near the headquarters of President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, a violent clash broke out as police tried to prevent protesters from crossing a line of security forces, the correspondent reported.
A spokesman for the Palestinian security services said 10 people were hospitalized, and several arrested, without providing the number of detentions.
On Saturday, the PA had forcibly dispersed a protest against a planned meeting between PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Vice Prime Minister and former army chief Shaul Mofaz.
Palestinian human rights lawyers, including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, have been pursuing Mofaz for years in an attempt to bring him to justice for war crimes.
Ma’an quoted a PA security official blaming protestors for provoking police, and saying that police were investigating who was behing the protests. The “agendas of those unknown movements are to create chaos and harm security and attack Palestinian police,” security official, Adnan Dmeiri told Ma’an.
Trained and funded by US and European Union with Israel’s support
Palestinian Authority security forces and police have been funded and trained by the United States and European in recent years, training which has assisted them to violate Palestinian human rights, as The Electronic Intifada has reported.
The Palestinian Authority has carried out numerous crackdowns and attacks against Palestinian political activity and media in recent years acting in “coordination” with Israeli occupation forces.
As recently as May, The New York Times quoted Abbas telling Israel lobbyists visiting from the United States how he pleaded with Israel to allow his forces to have more weapons in order to maintain what he called the “security situation.”
The development of repressive PA security forces that have even engaged in torture was carried out beginning in the mid-2000s under the supervision of US Army General Keith Dayton. Dayton and his Palestinian wards were instrumental in a US government conspiracy to overthrow the elected Hamas-run Palestinian Authority after 2006.
Mark Perry and Ali Abunimah wrote a detailed account of Dayton’s mission based on revelations that came out in the Palestine Papers last year.