Palestinian security forces abused some prisoners’ human rights, a colonel in those forces acknowledged last week.
Col. Jabril Rajoub, head of the Preventive Security forces of the West Bank city of Jericho, acknowledged those abuses in a meeting with human rights organizations last Wednesday. He was in Washington for the signing of the most recent Israel-Palestinian pact.
Rajoub assured these organizations that human rights violations will be controlled in the West Bank.
He said all previous abusers will be charged and tried.
His organization is the section of the entire Palestinian National Security forces responsible for the protection of human rights in the Palestinian autonomous region of the West Bank.
“I understand their (human rights organizations) concerns about the violations of human rights. I offer them the opportunity to investigate, check and monitor our process of interrogation,” Rajoub said.
The Death of an American
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, questioned Rajoub about a recent suspicious death: On September 29 a Palestinian American from Dallas, Azzam Mohammed Rahim Mosleh, died in captivity.
“(Mosleh’s) body was delivered to his family in the West Bank with marks all over his body, and it appeared that he been tortured,” Zogby said.
He said Palestinian security officials reported that Mosleh died of heat exhaustion, but did not issue a medical report.
Rajoub said that Mosleh had committed many crimes including two murders. “(But) this does not justify at all his death while under interrogation.”
“None of my Preventive Security forces were involved in the interrogation of this guy (Mosleh)”, Rajoub said.
Saiid Hamad, deputy director of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington said Mosleh was interrogated by the Palestinian National Security forces, the umbrella organization in control of the Preventive Security forces and several other Palestinian security institutions.
PLO Chairman Yaser Arafat assigned a commission to investigate this death, Hamad said.
Palestine’s Human Rights Monitors
Rajoub said the Preventive Security forces are trained in public enforcement, public relations, criminal procedures and human rights issues.
Under the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement between Israel and the PLO, the Palestinians took authority of the city of Jericho in the West Bank. Rajoub was appointed by Arafat as the head of the Preventive Security forces.
“Since I took over the Preventive forces in Jericho last year no Palestinian attacks on Israel were initiated from this city,” said Rajoub.
Rajoub’s authority will be growing as a result of the latest Palestinian-Israeli pact.
Zogby said that the agreement signed in Washington back on September 28, 1995, would extend Palestinian rule to many other major cities in the West Bank. Zogby added that Rajoub’s authority will spread to most of the other cities in the West Bank soon after Israeli withdrawal from these cities.
Amnesty International Critque
According to Amnesty International, human rights abuses continue in the Palestinian controlled areas.
A May 1995 Amnesty International report said serious human right violations committed in the occupied territories have not been given a high priority by the Palestinian authorities.
“Palestinian Security forces have killed at least 16 Palestinians since May 1994,” said the report and the results of the investigations into the deaths were not made public. The report also said that 13 of the 16 Palestinians were killed during demonstrations against the Palestinian authority.
Pernille Holtedahl, coordinator for Israel and the occupied territories for Amnesty International said at least three Palestinian died in Palestinian custody.
Rajoub: The Veteran Revolutionary
Rajoub is a veteran of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation. He said he spent a total of 17 years in Israeli prisons experiencing torture and hunger strikes.
“I am a revolutionary,” Rajoub said, adding that he was an active fighter who participated in attacks against the Israeli occupation.