Between 18 and 19 September 2012, the Palestinian Intelligence and Preventive Security Forces arrested more than 130 persons throughout the West Bank, specifically in Toulkarem, Qalqiliya, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Salfit. Among those arrested for their alleged affiliation with Hamas are human rights defenders, politicians, journalists, school teachers and university students. Many of these had only recently been released from Israel prisons.
Al-Haq expresses its grave concern at the intimidation and arrest of so many Palestinians for political reasons during the past week. Al-Haq reiterates the obligation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to respect the right of individuals under its jurisdiction to freely participate in political life, especially in light of the upcoming municipal elections. Furthermore, Al-Haq urges the PA to adhere to all principles essential to a society that aspires to democracy. Chief amongst these is an abiding respect for freedom of association. Arbitrary arrest and detention without charge or trial have no room in such an environment.
Riyad Rashid Walwil (56 years old)
On 18 September, at approximately 2:30 pm, four Palestinian officers from the Preventive Security Forces and another person in civil clothing arrived at Riyad Rashid Walwil’s home in Qalqiliya. Riyad was taken by military jeep to the Preventive Security headquarters, east of Qalqiliya, without being given any explanation.
At the headquarters, Riyad was briefly held in a room along with two other teachers, before being questioned by two Preventive Security investigators about the upcoming municipal elections, the candidates’ lists and the persons he would support. Despite answering that he was not following the election process the officer continued to question Riyad on any possible connection between him and Hamas.
Half an hour later the first interrogation came to an end and Riyad was brought to a room where he waited until approximately 7:00 pm. During this time, he began to feel ill due to the fact that he had not taken his medication to counter his high blood pressure. Despite being examined by doctors and prescribed medication, Riyad was interrogated again. His condition continued to deteriorate and Riyad was moved to the medical unit where he was again examined by a doctor and given more medication. Shortly afterwards, Riyad was transferred back to headquarters where he spent the night.
The following day, at approximately 11:00 am, Riyad was interrogated for the third time by another investigator and was asked about his alleged affiliation to Hamas and Hamas’ position in the elections. Afterwards, he was brought before the Director of the Interrogation Department, who accused Riyad of being affiliated with Hamas and threatened him with repeated arrest if he suspected Riyad’s involvement in any Hamas-related activities. At approximately 12:15 pm, the Preventive Security Forces released Riyad. (Al-Haq Affidavit No.7732/2012)
As’ad Muhammad Abu Ghosh (37 years old)
In another case of arbitrary arrest, the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces arrested As’ad Muhammad Abu Ghosh, a Palestinian who was released from an Israeli prison on 2 September 2012. On the same night, a Preventive Security patrol arrived at As’ad’s home in the Balata refugee camp (Nablus governorate) and provided him with a summons ordering that he appear at the Preventive Security Forces headquarters on 8 September 2012.
On the set day, As’ad reported to the headquarters and, after being arrested, he was transferred to the Jneid Palestinian prison where he was denied any family visits until he was released on 17 September. While in detention, he was questioned about his imprisonment in Israeli jails and was threatened with prolonged detention if he did not reveal what information he had provided to Israeli interrogators.
On 18 September, the Preventive Security Forces arrived at As’ad’s home and arrested him once more. The following day, As’ad was transferred to Jneid prison, where he began a hunger strike in protest against his detention without charge and the denial of family visits. He has been in detention since that date and at the time of writing was still on hunger strike. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7733/2012)