The Palestinian Authority has consistently used its Western-trained security forces to attack protesters, a human rights group said. Amnesty International reported that PA security forces were engaged in provocations against peaceful demonstrators in the West Bank. Amnesty accused the PA of unnecessary and excessive force as well as refusing to respond to allegations of human rights. “Standards during the policing of demonstrations in the West Bank continue to fall woefully short of those prescribed by international law,” Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East, said. “As a result, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are being severely eroded.” In a statement on Sept. 23, Amnesty disputed claims by Western donors that PA security forces were beginning to respect human rights. The London-based group cited attacks by PA plainclothes officers in June and July 2012 of an anti-Israeli demonstration in Ramallah. At least five protesters were sent to the hospital for treatment and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas pledged to investigate.
More than a year later, the PA has refused to release the investigation. Instead, summaries of the investigations by the Abbas panel and the Interior Ministry agreed that the police employed “unnecessary, unjustified and disproportionate force.”
“Despite the findings of the Independent Investigative Committee, the PA has not prosecuted any of its police or security forces for the violence they perpetrated against peaceful protesters and other unlawful conduct in Ramallah on 30 June and 1 July last year,” Luther said. “Such impunity inevitably fosters further abuses, as evidenced by further incidents in which PA forces have used excessive force against protesters since mid-2012.”
Amnesty also reported police attacks on protests in July and August 2013. Women demonstrators and journalists were said to have been the target of PA intimidation.
The Western donor community has also been urged to demand accountability from PA police. Amnesty cited the European Union and the United States. “International donors need to make clear to the PA’s leadership that they are not prepared to tolerate continued rights violations by PA police and security forces and that future assistance is dependent on PA leaders’ ensuring full accountability,” Luther said.