The invaluable group Palestine Media Watch (PMW) reports today on torture in the West Bank and Gaza. PMW carries an exposé from the Ma’an news agency, and here is the key portion:
General Director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights Dr. Ammar Dwaik explained that torture like “whippings, hanging a person from his hands while they are tied behind his back, verbal abuse, sleep deprivation and whipping the soles of feet” is being carried out in Palestinian detention centers by individuals despite the fact that it is against the law. The report stated that this happens with the knowledge of PA security forces.
This is not the first time such allegations have been made against both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. What’s worth noting is the reaction from Washington and among the donors to the PA: silence. And what’s even more noteworthy is the reaction from the innumerable groups attacking Israel for human rights violations: more silence. Such abuses, which would arouse a global round of denunciations of Israel if Israel acted this way, arouse yawns when committed by the PA.
There are some lessons here. One, as noted, is that official Palestinian human rights abuses get next to zero attention. Another lesson is that this immunity carries a price–and the price is paid by Palestinians. Instead of evolving steadily toward a more democratic political system that respects human rights, the Palestinian system has stalled. There are no elections, there are widespread human rights abuses, there are few or no corrective mechanisms, and there is global indifference. Governments and organizations that say they want to help build peace in the Middle East should realize that withholding criticism of the PA for its abuses is not a way forward. It is a guarantee that human rights conditions in the West Bank will continue to deteriorate.