Amnesty censures Palestinians
Ian Black | October 24, 2007 | The Guardian
Amnesty International has slammed the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the rival Fatah group for serious human rights abuses in the recent factional fighting in Gaza and the West Bank.
Hamas is accused in a report published today of "increasingly resorting" to arbitrary detention and torture since its forces took control of the Gaza Strip in June. In the West Bank Fatah security personnel are accused of detaining, abducting and abusing hundreds of Hamas supporters, with help from Israel.
The Palestinian president and chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is the leader of Fatah and a key partner for Israel, the US and the west. Hamas has been boycotted as a terrorist organisation which refuses to renounce violence, recognise Israel or accept peace agreements.
"The leaders of both the PA and Hamas must take immediate steps to break the cycle of impunity that continues to fuel abuses, including arbitrary detentions, abductions, torture and ill-treatment by their forces," said Malcolm Smart, AI's Middle East director. "The ongoing factional struggle between Fatah and Hamas is having a dire effect on the lives of Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip ... exacerbating the human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by Israeli military campaigns and blockades."
Amnesty's report catalogues the infighting that culminated last June when Hamas seized control of PA security institutions in Gaza. Both sides "displayed a flagrant disregard for the safety of the civilian population by launching indiscriminate attacks and reckless gun battles in residential neighbourhoods," it says.
Lawlessness and impunity were already the norms before 350 people were killed. Both sides mounted attacks in and around hospitals and targeted patients in their beds. Fatah activists were thrown from tall buildings.
Amnesty has issued reports critical of Israeli practices in the occupied territories, and says it is anxious to demonstrate that it is not ignoring abuses committed by the Palestinians. "The international community must hold all Palestinian parties accountable to the same human rights standards," said Mr Smart.