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Excessive force used by PA security during rally under investigation

Sept. 19, 2015 10:06 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 20, 2015 10:01 A.M.)
Image grab from Middle East Eye of PA forces beating a Palestinian teenager during a rally in Bethlehem on Sept. 18, 2015.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday forcibly dispersed a peaceful rally in the Azza Refugee Camp in Bethlehem in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, sparking uproar among residents against the excessive use force by PA security against its own citizens.

A video went viral on social media revealing a group of PA security officers violently attacking a teenage boy with clubs during the clashes.

Dozens of young men from the Duheisha Refugee Camp south of Bethlehem also demonstrated in the area's main road later in the evening after PA forces arrested two teenage boys for partaking in the Al-Aqsa rally near the Azza camp.

A spokesman for the PA's security forces, Adnan Dmeiri, told Ma’an that the attack on Palestinian protesters was “completely unacceptable as it is against Palestinian laws.”

“Appropriate punishment will be taken against all officers who used violence against Palestinian citizens,” Dmeiri added.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has reportedly appointed a committee headed by the governor of Bethlehem Jibrin al-Bakri to investigate the events in Azza.

Hamdallah said: “What happened in the camp does not reflect the policy of the Palestinian government, or the Palestinian security forces.”

The PM attributed Friday's incidents to individual behavior of the officers involved which he “strongly rejected” and said will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Nidal Abu Dukhan, commander of the Palestinian national security forces -- a branch of PA security -- on Friday evening created a special committee to investigate the attack, a spokesman of the national security forces told Ma’an.

Dukhan's spokesperson, Hafith al-Rifa’I, said that Dukhan had appointed the committee to be led by Salahiddin al-Sharif, head of a department which observes and monitors the performance of national security officers.

“Strict punishment will be taken against those who attacked Palestinian citizens and the ones who gave the orders,” al-Rifa'l said, adding that the punishment could include discharging officers.

Rifa’I said that the commander of national security forces “apologized to the teenager and his family, denouncing the attack."

“This uncommon behavior doesn’t reflect the policy of Palestinian national security, and it’s the first of its kind since four years,” he said.

A delegation representing the national security forces is expected to arrive in Bethlehem on Saturday to apologize to the teenager and his family, and offer “whatever the teenager needs.”

PA security collaboration with Israel

Friday's incidents comes as Palestinians and political factions have criticized the PA for continuing security coordination with Israeli authorities.

PA and Israeli security forces have worked in coordination since the Oslo Accords in 1993, which planned for a gradual power transfer of the occupied West Bank from Israeli forces to the PA over the next five years.

Over 10 years on critics frequently accuse the PA of aligning with and carrying out Israel's interests and goals in the occupied West Bank.

Disproportionate use of force by PA security forces as well as lack of effective due process by Palestinian legal bodies has been reported by Palestinians in the past.

Dmeiri told Ma'an that in areas under full Palestinian control -- Area A according to Oslo Accords -- Palestinian security officers are instructed to prevent Palestinians from approaching so-called seam zones “to protect them from Israeli occupation forces,” but the spokesperson did not elaborate on coordination with Israeli forces.

The PA security spokesperson told Ma'an that justice would be reached for the teenager who was violently beaten on Friday, citing that in 2014 PA security officers were punished by imprisonment and disciplinary service after they were found guilty of using violence against Palestinian citizens.

The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) confirmed that “excessive force” had been used against protesters Friday.

“It was an evident use of excessive force against a peaceful gathering during which participants were attacked with stun grenades and rods,” director of the group’s office in the southern West Bank Farid al-Atrash told Ma’an.

He urged the PA to investigate the attacks and is currently collecting complaints from those who were attacked during the rally.

“As a Palestinian, I say that the president should immediately apologize to our people in the Azza Refugee Camp and should give orders to call to account those who gave the orders.”

"This shameful farce must be stopped," added al-Atrash.

(MaanImages)

(MaanImages)

(MaanImages)

Comments
Legal Eagle / Australia
While they are at it, could they please also investigate and publicly report exactly how many members of Hamas, PFLP, and Islamic Jihad have been detained or pulled in for questioning by the PA since January 01, 2014 - and their fates?
19/09/2015 13:36
Colin Wright / USA
Clubs? Clubs? Heck, this is Palestine. Israel has used machine guns, tank cannon, and helicopter-launched missiles on peaceful demonstrators.
19/09/2015 16:24
@ Legal / USA
None of that matters, a bit, since Suffering, Injuries, and Detention Are the Only "Fruits of the Resistance", while Palestinian Statehood, or anything positive, is Not, regardless of which police force you confront !!
19/09/2015 17:44
Brian Cohen / Israel
Let's investigate why Australians support Hamas IJ and PFLP - all of them self-declared terrorist organizations that commit war crimes. There must be Australian laws that will punish "illegal eagles" who support terrorism.
19/09/2015 20:30
Olga / N.J.
L.E.? The article goes very long on apologies and while that's nice? Where's the money to...lift these people out of poverty? That apology goes on long with no resolution. Where's the money?
20/09/2015 09:22
Rami / Palestine
Farid al Atrash works for the ICHR? Does Abdel Halim Hafez work for Ma'an? or Um Kalthoum work for Al Haq?
20/09/2015 10:39
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