On Thursday 2 July 2015, the Palestinian security apparatuses, including the Preventive security apparatus and the General Intelligence, carried out an extensive campaign of arrests. These arrests mainly targeted Hamas members and supporters across the West Bank. Throughout the campaign, political leaders, university students, and prisoners released from Israeli prisons were arrested without judicial arrest warrants from the Public Prosecution. This activity constitutes a violation of the impacted individuals' rights and the constitutional guarantees stated in the Palestinian Basic Law and relevant legislations. The arrests additionally violate a number of international conventions that the State of Palestine has acceded to, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates the right to liberty and security of the individual.
On Sunday 5 July, families of those detained in Palestinian custody organised a sit-in near Al-Manara Square in the city centre of Ramallah. Significant numbers of Palestinian security members were present. At approximately 11:00 pm, Yousef Bashar Karmi, 19, passed near the location of the sit-in while returning home for the evening. As he was passing the location he recognized a friend, Wa'el Abu Muti', near the sit-in. Yousef approached Wa'el and engaged in a conversation with him about university and summer term final exams. Shortly after, a member of the Palestinian Intelligence, dressed in civilian clothes, ordered Yousef to declare his full name, his ID number, and his cell phone number.
Five other officers then dragged both Yousef and Wa'el to a nearby street. There, Yousef was slapped twice, pushed against the Wall, and kicked. The officer ordered Yousef to face the wall and empty his pockets. Yousef complied. Yousef was also verbally abused in the course of the incident. The officer went through Yousef's personal text messages and the pictures on his cell phone.
Following this incident, Yousef was transferred to the Intelligence headquarters in Al-Balu', Ramallah. There, he was registered, forced to stand facing the wall for about twenty minutes, and then was transferred to the military medical services where he was examined. In the corridor Yousef was blindfolded, first by a green piece of cloth for approximately ten minutes, and then with a wool bag without any openings. His hands were also tied behind his back. He was then immediately pushed through the corridor, and a man questioned him on what had happened. Yousef responded that he had been on his way home. The interrogator did not accept Yousef’s explanation, expressing disbelief, insisting that Yousef was participating in the sit-in, and demanding further details.
Following this interrogation, Yousef was taken inside a room where he was asked the same question. He could not discern the identity of the interrogators, but could recognize from the number of voices that there was more than one person. Yousef continued to insist that he had been returning home when he was pulled aside by the police officer. In response, one of the investigators put up Yousef's arms (which were still tied behind his back) and struck him severely on the abdomen several times. Yousef was slapped once with a hose or a stick on the feet. As he was being beaten, two other interrogators remained near him and continued to question him about the sit-in. Yousef still insisted that he was on his way home.
Following this, Yousef was hung on a shackle hanging on the door with his feet on the ground, and was further questioned about the sit-in. When Yousef did not answer, the interrogators left him hanging from the shackle for approximately one hour. During this time he was threatened by one of the officers, who claimed that he would beat Yousef and break his ribs that evening if he did not cooperate with the interrogators. About an hour later, another officer repositioned Yousef but left him suspended from the door. The officer continued to verbally pressure Yousef to confess as he remained in that position for another 15 minutes.
Yousef was then untied and taken to a room where the blindfold was removed. At approximately 3:00 am, he was offered a meal and water. He asked to call his parents, and was allowed to do so. At approximately 5:30 am, Yousef was moved to a detention room with six others. There were not enough beds for all six.
At approximately 10:00 am, the officer in charge of university files questioned Yousef on his role and activities within the Islamic Bloc, and the distribution of money and aid amongst students. Yousef denied any affiliation with the Islamic Bloc. The same officer asked Yousef to be their informant after his release. Yousef refused. At approximately 6:00 pm, Yousef was taken to another room. It was extremely cold, and there were no windows. He was given a meal and then was interrogated with yet again.
On Tuesday 7 July at approximately 1:00 am, Yousef was released. He was arrested again immediately after leaving the headquarters. He was registered and taken to the medical services, and then brought into the detention room. At 10:00 am, he was interrogated again, and once again refused to become an informant for the Intelligence. He was released that day at approximately 3:00 pm with a summoning order for 26 July 2015. At no point was Yousef brought before the Public Prosecution. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10824/2015)
Al-Haq is gravely concerned with the recurring incidents of arbitrary arrests and calls on the Palestinian security apparatuses to abide by Palestinian laws and international standards when carrying out arrests and detention. Article 11 of the Palestinian Basic Law states that a person can only be arrested with judicial order in accordance with the provisions of the law.
Al-Haq condemns arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment endured while in Palestinian custody. Under international human rights law, all persons deprived of their liberty must be treated with dignity, and be free from physical and psychological abuse. Considering its latest accession to international treaties, the State of Palestine should abide by the relevant articles in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Furthermore, the right to freedom of association and participation in the political are guaranteed under both national and international law.