More than six decades after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, violations are still widespread, and in some places, it is more of a dream than reality. Human rights contraventions exist in all parts of the world, but it is common in some areas compared to others. Recently, Amnesty International Report reveals that citizens are still tortured and abused in more than 80 countries worldwide. Unfair trials are widespread in 54 nations, whereas, freedom of expression is restricted in 77 others (Murad, 2014). Unlike in other areas around the globe, human rights violation is still prevalent in Palestine. Allegations have been put forward against the government, Israeli’s authority, and some establishments such as Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Hamas. The primary focus is on human right nonobservence carried out by the Palestine Authorities, Hamas, and PLO. For instance, PLO has been accused of disregarding human rights by engaging in indiscriminate killings of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Coupled up with the actions of the groups, Palestine Authorities also participate in activities that contradict the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Recently, the Palestinian authorities and the Hamas have been accused of a wide range of abuses on innocent citizens. Even though there have been various efforts by the international community to curb the spread of human rights violations in the region, the above mentioned Islamic and political groups of Palestine still use force through a crackdown on rebellious and opposing voices to the authority.
Palestine Liberation Organization began as an umbrella political association, which represented the needs of the Arabs who lived in Palestine region before the creation of Israel state. PLO was founded in 1964, bringing together various groups that had participated in resistance against the occupation that led to the formation of Israel state. The organization became prominent after the June 1967 Six-Day War. It continued its engagement through protracted guerrilla wars that pitted them against Israeli forces for three decades, beginning in the 1960s (Azoulay, 2014). PLO then entered into a peaceful negotiation with Israel to end the senseless fight. Throughout its existence, PLO has been accused of violating fundamental human rights for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Hamas, on the other hand, had its foundation on the practices taught by Islamic fundamentalism of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin legally registered the Hamas in 1978. The goal of Hamas, like PLO, was the liberation of Palestine from the Israel occupation with a long-term objective of establishing an Islamic State. Palestine Authority was born out of a peace agreement between Israel and the PLO in 1994, which birthed the Declaration of Principles. The agreement was such the Palestine Authority was to be in command of the most inhabited regions in taken territories.
Crackdown and Torture
According to the report by Country Reports – Palestinian Territory (2019), evidence from Jerusalem human right watch group indicate that Palestine authorities, at West Bank and Gaza, have over the years engaged in a well-calculated systematic crackdown on people with a dissenting opinion. The standard form of abuse applied to rebellious individuals is torture, which, the report indicates, may amount to a crime against humanity. Evidence from documents identify cases of Palestinians being detained after posting an opinion on Facebook that does not concur with what the government, Hamas, and PLO believe is right regarding Israeli occupation of Gaza and West Bank (Country Reports – Palestinian Territory, 2019). Some incidences of journalists and reporters being apprehended or killed for critical reporting and mainstream publications that did not comply with the stand of the governing authority are also evidenced as a significant source of human rights violations to free speech and expression. An example from the paper is a case of a Palestinian detained four times in one year for his stand on Hamas. The 55-years old, Abdulla Abu Sharkeh, a Palestinian refugee at a camp in Gaza was arrested four times in a single year and was put in imprisonment without trial. This was due to a Facebook post that termed Hamas as dictatorial (Assi, 2012). As Assi (2012) points out, the victim was tortured, as he was made to sit on a small chair or stand for four hours a day. He sustained injuries as a result, but the authorities did nothing to assist him. Such crackdowns on people with opposing voices have been on the rise as Palestinian authorities try to suppress people who are in conflict with the governing body.
The other form of abuse is associated with accusations of unwanted collaborations. Reports from a reputable Israeli human rights watch organization, B’tselem, recently reported that Hamas and PLO are responsible for senseless killings of some Palestinians, who the group viewed as collaborating with Israelis (Murad, 2014). A separate contribution by the World Report (2018) reveals that more than half of Palestinians killed were suspected of being collaborators. In most cases, the victims do not get any form of trial or investigative process to establish if they indeed were engaged in such activities. For instance, between 1987 and 2000, close to 1000 Palestinians lost their lives on suspicion of cooperating with the Israeli authorities on occupied territories (Murad, 2014). The leading killers, in this case, were the local groups such as the Hamas and PLO, but it is important to note that the government did not condemn the killings or made any arrests. From the report, the authors highlight that collecting accurate figures of people killed by the group was not easy, since majority of Palestinian families did not want to admit that their relatives or siblings were murdered or tortured for suspicion of collaborating with the Israelis (Mukhimer, 2016). Authentic facts regarding human right violations by Hamas was reported in April 2012, when the group executed three convicted Palestinians in Gaza. This act was condemned internationally by various right watch associations including the UNHRC, which called for investigations into the actions of the group. A number of international organizations, both in Israel and the West, have called on the Palestine authority to investigate the allegations of abuse and human torture citing that these acts contravene the stipulations of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Silencing Dissenting Voices
On the other hand, Hajjar (2001) observes that the authorities have come up with a new way of suppressing opposition through the arrest and torture of protesters. An assessment by the author reveals that the Palestinian authority broke up a public protest and ended up arresting ten people who raised voice against the government in West Bank. The police disrupted this peaceful march and used excessive force such as batons and electric shockers to disperse the crowd. Ten people were then arrested on grounds of organizing a protest against the government (Hajjar, 2001). These individuals were later on tortured without any formal trial to prove their crime. Reports of inhumane handling of activists perceived to be against Palestine Authority are also on the rise in the region. As reported by Allen (2013), Israeli-based human right watch group has reported hundreds of injuries meted on these people, by both Hamas and Palestine Authority, for disagreeing with specific actions taken by the government. Such actions amount to the infringement of human rights as people do not have the freedom to express their views and engage in activities that may contradict the interests of the government.
From the assessment of human right violation in Palestine, it is apparent that the international community has been slow with respect to the intervention mechanisms that have been adopted for putting an end to these abuses. Various social right organizations, based in Israel and the West Bank, have condemned the activities occurring in occupied territories, but concrete action has never been taken. As evident from the examples highlighted in this discussion, innocent Palestinians continue to face torture and forceful detention under the watch of the international community. The response has been slow going by the atrocities these innocent civilians continue to meet (Murad, 2014). Both the United Nations and European Union can assist these suffering Palestinians whose mistakes are only to express their opinion. Reporting abuses going on in the country alone is not enough. A concrete solution, which involves promotion of human rights within the territory, is necessary. Leaders of both Palestine Authority and Hamas found responsible for the violations should be charged in international criminal court for crimes against humanity, as their actions have resulted in the loss of lives and separation of families over the years. Humanitarian assistance should be provided to families whose members, perceived to be collaborators or hold a dissenting opinion, are in various prisons without undergoing any legal process.
In conclusion, it is evident that Palestine is still grappling with the issue of human rights violation. Various forms of abuse on civilians can be attributed to the actions that have been taken by the ruling authority and other organizations such as Hamas. To a considerable extent, the sources of human rights abuse are due to to having opposing views with that of the ruling authority and accusations concerning allegations of collaboration. Several people have lost their lives in the process, and many others have suffered from the effects of torture and unwarranted arrests. Despite these challenges, humanitarian intervention still seems to be slow and the violators are yet to face charges. It is necessary for the international community to take charge and take the much needed necessary actions against people who engage in crimes against humanity
Allen, L. (2013). The rise and fall of human rights: Cynicism and politics in occupied Palestine. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Assi, E. (2012). World heritage sites, human rights and cultural heritage in Palestine. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 18(3), 316–323. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2012.652975
Azoulay, A. (2014). Palestine as symptom, Palestine as hope: Revising human rights discourse. Critical Inquiry, 40(4), 332–364. https://doi.org/10.1086/676411
Country Reports – Palestinian Territory, Occupied. (2019). Palestinian Authority Monitor, 1–40. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=134440507&site=ehost-live
Hajjar, L. (2001). Human rights in Israel/Palestine: The history and politics of a movement. Journal of Palestine Studies, 30(4). https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2001.30.4.21
Mukhimer, T. (2016). Hamas rule in Gaza: Human rights under constraint. Palgrave Macmillan US.
Murad, N. L. (2014, October 24). Donor complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. Al-Shabaka. Retrieved from https://al-shabaka.org/briefs/donor-complicity-in-israels-violations-of-palestinian-rights/
World Report 2018. (2018, January 18): Rights trends in Israel and Palestine. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/israel/palestine