Palestinians and torture. Who is torturing who?

Gazan motorcyclists drag suspected Israeli spy

COMMENT

by Alan Simons

ALSThis morning The Times of Israel reported: “The Palestinian Authority on Sunday accused Israel of torturing to death Palestinian inmate Arafat Shalish Shahin Jaradat, who died in jail on Saturday, setting the stage for a dramatic escalation of ongoing protests in the West Bank… The PA convened a press conference to issue its accusations of blame against Israel — a step certain to raise tensions surrounding Jaradat’s scheduled funeral on Monday.”

The Times, in another report relating to Jaradat’s funeral, quoted President Abbas as saying he would not let Israel “play with the lives of our people” and would not allow Palestinians to waste away in Israeli jails.

“Our people, President Abbas?” I’m reminded of an Arabic saying: “Arrogance is a weed that grows mostly on a dunghill.” It would seem your Palestinian Authority and Fatah have left many dunghills for your people. One of them that comes to mind is the article written a number of years ago by Der Spiegels Ulrike Putz. 

A building formerly occupied by Fatah’s intelligence service in Gaza was long notorious for torture and execution. Now Hamas is in control — and is letting former inmates visit the chamber of horrors.

The cells are small, perhaps six feet by six feet, with only an overhead lamp to provide light. The toilet is a hole in the floor behind a small wall. The prisoners have scribbled graffiti on the walls, including slogans like “Al-Qaida in Jerusalem” and “Islamic Jihad.” One inmate even scratched the phrase “Mother, oh my mother” into the plaster.

The children have no interest in the graffiti. Four of them are rushing through the 30-odd basement cells, their mother and aunts in tow. The nine-member family has taken the afternoon off. Where parents in other parts of the world might take their children to a chamber of horrors in an amusement park, the main attractions in the Gaza Strip these days are Fatah’s torture chambers.

The headquarters of the Fatah-controlled security force in Gaza have been open to the public since last Thursday. Every day is open house now.

For years the complex was a symbol of the horror disseminated by the security forces that reported directly to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This is where Hamas men were taken after Fatah had arrested them. Some of those lucky enough to be eventually released reported that they had been tortured. Others disappeared forever.

Record of Brutality of “our people” by the Palestinian Authority

Documented evidence dating back some 14 years and published by the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, also implicates Abbas’ role in the torture of Palestinians. “In May 2008, the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group released a report entitled Palestinian Authority Political Arrests, Illegal Detainment, and Torture that documented 14 years of extra-judicial brutality under the Palestinian Authority, with the direct and explicit support of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.”

And finally, in December 2012, the London-based  Arab Organization of Human Rights (AOHR), “accused the PA of using torture and degrading treatment of its prisoners, with 18.7 percent of a sample of 300 former detainees stating that they experienced ‘severe torture’ and 99.7 percent claiming that they were exposed to degrading treatment. The group calls on the international community to do more about the PA’s alleged violations.

“AOHR places complete responsibility for these human rights violations on the Palestinian President Abbas… AOHR calls for the secretary-generals of the UN, Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to put pressure in Mahmoud Abbas to stop political detention as it harms the interests of all Palestinians,” AOHR said.

Mahmoud Abbas, to quote the author and teacher Idries Shah:  “You have not forgotten to remember;  You have remembered to forget…” It is you who play with the lives of your people.

(Photo credit: timeline photos)

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