Over the past month, tensions mounted in occupied East Jerusalem, particularly in Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in the Old City, after Israeli forces prohibited Palestinian worshippers from entering the Mosque. As a result, clashes erupted between Palestinians on the one hand, and ultraorthodox Jewish groups and the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) on the other. Many people protested the attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, including Palestinians in the rest of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and elsewhere in the world. The formal position of the PA on the events was condemning Israel and calling for international action. Over the past few weeks, however, the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces suppressed events and demonstrations within the West Bank against Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Muhammad Najib Hithnawi – Al-Bustan neighbourhood – Jenin
On 4 November, Muhammad, 38, was suspended from his job as the Imam and preacher at Jenin’s Big Mosque. On Friday 31 October, Muhammad preached at the Friday prayer covering the events of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the different violations perpetuated by the IOF and Israeli settlers.
Imam Muhammad spoke of the violations taking place in Jerusalem and displayed solidarity with the Palestinians there. He made no reference to any political acts or the role of the PA. Many worshippers, including members of the Palestinian security forces had confirmed this. Muhammad kept a record of the sermon he had delivered on that day. Later in the same day, he received a phone call from Salah Judah, head of the Waqf in Jenin governorate, who accused Muhammad of not adhering to the topic of the day on “Homicides”. Salah was not pleased with Muhammad’s insistence to speak to the people on the violations occurring in Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, and Jerusalem in general.
On 4 November, Muhammad was surprised that his name was not on the list of the Waqf November Speakers’ Programme, which is distributed monthly, indicating the names of imam speakers and the topics for each Friday’s prayer. Immediately, he called the Waqf to understand why his name was not on the list, only to be told that he was suspended from his position by an order from Saleh Judah. Muhammad was not formally informed of the suspension nor was he called for investigations by PA Security Forces. He also indicated that many other imams spoke about Jerusalem that Friday, but none were suspended. Muhammad could not understand why such measures were taken against him only and demands equitable reparations and that his name to be put back on the Speakers List. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10153/2014)
Imad Addin Jamal Amro – Al-Hawuz – Hebron
On Friday 7 November, Imad, 20, was heading to his grandparents’ house, east of Hebron University, following the Friday prayers. As he was walking on the street behind the University and approximately 500 metres from Al-Rebat Mosque, two jeeps belonging to the Palestinian Preventive Forces arrived. The two jeeps stopped and surrounded Imad as some officers dressed in green uniforms stepped out. At the time, there were many people leaving the mosques following the Friday prayers.
One of the officers asked Imad if he had thrown stones at the Palestinian police and asked him about two young men who had escaped earlier. Imad denied throwing stones or recognizing the two men. Then, six officers started beating Imad on his feet using their bats and slapped him on his face. Imad could no longer stand and fell on the street. Some people on the street attempted to assist him but the Preventive Forces prohibited them.
The Palestinian officers carried Imad and threw him in the back seat of one of their jeeps. As the jeep was moving, an officer in the front seat kept asking Imad how many stones he had thrown. Imad consistently denied throwing any stones. Each time Imad denied the officer's accusation, he would be beaten by an officer from the Preventive Security.
Once at the headquarters, an officer beat Imad on his chest with his foot which caused him to fall sideways in severe pain. Another officer shouted at Imad “die, die”. The officers dragged Imad towards the building and beat him. An officer dressed in civilian clothing then appeared and ordered the others not to beat Imad. The officer then approached Imad, slapped, kicked and beat him as he was pulled inside the building. Other officers continued to beat Imad as he was being brought inside. An officer took him into a prison cell with other detainees after he confiscated his phone and wallet. Imad was then kicked and slapped for about two minutes by the officers there.
Imad remained in that room and every while an officer would come in, insult him and tell the detainees “all Hamas members are collaborators.” Imad was taken to the interrogation section, where he was placed inside a room with three other detainees. During the interrogations, he was accused of attacking a Security Officer – Imad denied this allegation. He was kept in the interrogation room till Sunday 9 November. The prison guard ordered Imad to phone call his family and ask them to bail him out. At approximately 5:00 p.m., Imad’s grandfather paid 5,000 Jordanian Dinars to bail him out, on the condition that he does not participate in any riots or assault Security Officers.
Following his release, Imad learnt that Palestinian Security Forces had violently dispersed Palestinian demonstrators in Hebron who were protesting the events in Jerusalem. He learnt that some protestors had thrown stones at the Security Forces. Imad states that during his arrest, he was not presented before the general prosecution or a court. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10152/2014)
Al-Haq is extremely concerned about the targeting of Al-Aqsa Mosque and calls for immediate international action. Al-Haq is also worried about the recurrence of violations of the rights to freedom of assembly, expression and association by the PA.
In light of the recent ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the PA, article 19 with regards to the right to freedom of expression must be observed. The right to freedom of expression cannot be restricted except in certain circumstances that put at risk the rights of others. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which is considered a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In addition, freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of Palestinian Basic Law. Furthermore, Article 32 of Palestinian Basic Law states that violation of freedoms, including freedom of expression, is a criminal act punishable by law.
Furthermore, the arbitrary arrest of detainees and their ill-treatment is also prohibited under articles 7, 9 and 14 of the ICCPR. Additionally, Article 11 of the Palestinian Basic Law states that personal freedom is a natural right that should not be violated while Article 13 indicates that “no person shall be subject to any duress or torture, and that detainees should receive proper treatment”.