Archive for the 'Human Rights' Category

PSC condemns the arrest of prominent human rights activist Issa Amro

PRESS RELEASE
Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) condemns the arrest of Issa Amro by the Palestinian Preventive Security Force and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. Issa was detained for criticising the Palestinian Authority for its arrest of a journalist in a Facebook post.

PSC Chair Hugh Lanning said:

“I have met and worked with Issa and have huge regard for his courageous battle against injustice. He has spent his life defending fellow Palestinians against Israel’s increasing colonisation of Palestinian land. The Palestinian Authority should be defending and supporting human rights defenders like Issa, not arresting them for expressing their views online.” Read more »

Administrative detention order issued against Addameer’s field researcher Salah Hamouri

PRESS RELEASE
ADDAMEER

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Addameer’s field researcher and human rights defender Salah Hamouri has received a six months administrative detention order, which is set to end on 22 February 2018. Initially, the Israeli Magistrate Court of Jerusalem has ordered the conditional release of Hamouri though, less than half an hour later, he was issued with the order.

According to the Court’s decision, Hamouri was going to be placed under house arrest in Al-Reineh (a village in the north of the territories occupied in 1948) for 20 days. He would also be banned from entering Jerusalem and traveling outside of the country for 3 months, until 28 November 2017. Additionally, Hamouri had to pay a 10,000NIS bail and third party guarantees, and when his family went to Al-Moskobyeh to pay the bail, they were informed that Hamouri will not be released. Read more »

CPJ requests meeting with Israeli ambassador to the United States

PRESS RELEASE
Committee to Protect Journalists

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The Honorable Ron Dermer
Ambassador of Israel to the United States
3514 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Via Email: info@israelemb.org and info@washington.mfa.gov.il

August 11, 2017

Your Excellency,

We at the Committee to Protect Journalists–an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for press freedom worldwide–write to express our deep concern about Communication Minister Ayoub Kara’s recent announcement that the Israeli government seeks to amend the law in order to shutter Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Israel, revoke its license, and strip its journalists of their accreditation.

We would welcome the opportunity to elaborate in person on the concerns we raised in the New York Times yesterday. That a country that describes itself as the only democracy in the Middle East is citing Egypt’s military dictatorship and Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy as precedents in muzzling a media outlet is troubling, especially coupled with the government’s recent actions against journalists. Read more »

UNHCHR deeply concerned about deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Gaza

PRESS STATEMENT
Ravina Shamdasani: Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Israel, as the occupying power, has responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure the well-being of the population.

Photo: Ezz Zanoun/Al Jazeera

Photo: Ezz Zanoun/Al Jazeera

Location: Geneva
Subject: Gaza

We are deeply concerned about the steady deterioration in the humanitarian conditions and the protection of human rights in Gaza.

At the height of summer, with soaring temperatures, electricity provision has not risen above six hours per day since the beginning of the current crisis in April, and has often been under four hours. This has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services. Power outages threaten the life and well-being of vulnerable groups, particularly those needing urgent medical care. We have observed an increasingly dire situation for the men, women and children of Gaza amid a deepening economic crisis, coupled with continuing restrictions on movement and freedom of expression. The desperate situation has also contributed to violent crime, domestic violence, including femicides, and attempted suicides, although exact data is hard to obtain.

Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza are not meeting their obligations to promote and protect the rights of the residents of Gaza. Israel, as the occupying power, has responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure the well-being of the population. Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza also have clear concurrent human rights obligations towards the Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli blockade and closure continue to disproportionately affect the civilian population and must be lifted. The recent measures to decrease the provision of electricity, and to cut the salaries and order early retirement of civil servants in Gaza, are having a direct, negative impact on the social and economic rights of Gazans. The lack of transparency in the use of resources, and the continuing suppression of freedom of speech and assembly by the authorities raise further concerns for the protection of fundamental rights of the population in the Gaza Strip.

We urge Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza to uphold the human rights of the population in Gaza. We also call on the international community to respond to the UN’s urgent appeal for humanitarian aid, to honour pledges made to support reconstruction and development of Gaza, and to work with the parties to bring a resolution to the current crisis.

Joint report estimates that 880 Palestinians arrested in July 2017

PRESS RELEASE
ADDAMEER

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Palestinian prisoners’ affairs institutions – the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights – issued the following report on 8 July 2017, which indicates that, during the month of July 2017, Israeli authorities arrested 880 individuals from the occupied Palestinian territories, including 144 children, and 18 women. Read more »

Palestinian security forces arrest five journalists in West Bank

PRESS RELEASE
Committee to Protect Journalists – MENA

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Beirut, August 10, 2017–Palestinian security forces should immediately release five journalists arrested in the West Bank yesterday and should cease arresting journalists on spurious charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Palestinian Authority security forces arrested the five journalists in raids of their homes in several cities across the West Bank, originally on allegations of “leaking sensitive information to hostile parties,” according to news reports, the journalists’ employers, and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. The Reconciliation Court in Ramallah today extended their detention for periods ranging from 5-15 days on charges of “endangering public safety,” news reports said. All of the journalists arrested work for media outlets affiliated with Hamas, the main rival of the Fatah movement that controls the Palestinian Authority. Read more »

Power shortages in Gaza deepening the humanitarian crisis, say UN rights experts

PRESS RELEASE
UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

Jabalia Camp, Gaza

Jabalia Camp, Gaza

GENEVA (12 July 2017) – Longstanding power shortages in Gaza have deepened the humanitarian crisis with hospitals in precarious conditions, water shortages growing, and untreated sewage being dumped into the Mediterranean, United Nations independent human rights experts* today warned.

“The two million residents of Gaza are suffering through a humanitarian crisis that is entirely human-made,” the experts said. “It represents a complete failure of all parties to uphold their fundamental human rights obligations, including the inalienable right to life.”

“Reports indicate that electricity is now available for six consecutive hours at the most, often less, followed by 12 hour periods of blackout. The situation is untenable,” they warned.

The experts said Israel’s recent implementation of a decision by the Palestinian Authority to further reduce electricity supplies by up to 40% was leading to an unprecedented deterioration in the provision of critical services.

Israel, as the occupier controlling the entry and exit of goods and people, bore the primary responsibility for the deterioration of the situation, they said, and should honour its commitments under international humanitarian law and human rights law. Read more »

UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices to visit Amman on annual mission

PRESS RELEASE
Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights

GENEVA (11 July 2017) – A United Nations Special Committee will undertake its annual field visit to Amman from 12 to 14 July 2017 to gather testimonies and to hear briefings on a range of human rights issues of concern in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the occupied Syrian Golan.

The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories will be meeting with victims, community representatives, witnesses, Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations, officials from Palestine, and UN representatives.

As stipulated in the mandate, the Committee has sought the agreement of the Government of Israel to access the Occupied Territories. However, the Government of Israel maintains its practice of non-cooperation. Read more »

On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Addameer highlights systematic abuses by Israeli forces

PRESS RELEASE
ADDAMEER

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On International Day to Support Victims of Torture, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association highlights the continued forms of physical and psychological torture of Palestinian prisoners and detainees by Israeli forces. Occupation authorities practice torture and ill-treatment in a systematic manner, in contravention with international law, which prohibits physical and psychological torture. Human rights conventions, including the Convention Against Torture, to which Israeli is a signatory, as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibit the use of torture with no exceptions.

On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Palestinians prisoners’ issue has a special importance. Since 1967, 73 Palestinian prisoners and detainees have died as a result of torture in Israeli detention during interrogation. The latest case is Arafat Jaradat, who died on 23 February 2013 as a result of torture during interrogation. Commissioned Forensic Pathology expert Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, found that “Arafat Jaradat was severely beaten while in detention, resulting in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which caused his death in Israeli custody on 23 February 2013.”[1] Despite this, up to date, no Israeli official has been charged for Jaradat’s death. Read more »

Immediate action needed as Gaza power cuts spark humanitarian crisis, UN expert warns

PRESS RELEASE
UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

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GENEVA (15 June 2017) – The humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating to unprecedented levels as new reductions in the already extremely limited power supply have been announced, a United Nations expert has warned.

Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said the situation was “extremely distressing” and getting worse with every passing week.

“All the parties with a direct hand in the crisis – Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas – must act immediately with the best interests of the population in Gaza in mind to resolve this human-made problem,” the expert said. Read more »

Four basic facts of geopolitics

Opinion
Mazin Qumsiyeh

The majority of victims of the US missile strike on the Syrian airbase were local villagers, including women and children.

The majority of victims of the US missile strike on the Syrian airbase were local villagers, including women and children.

The attack on Syria by the United States, while illegal per international law, ie not sanctioned by the UN Security Council and opposed by Russia and China, comes to remind as all of four basic facts of geopolitics:

1) US Presidents, no matter how “unconventional,” must always obey the rules set for them. Trump came to office opposing intervention in Syria and is now directly siding with the “rebels” and has accepted the 1990s neocon
strategy of regime changes across Western Asia that are supposed to benefit “Israel”.

2) As Henry Kissinger said: “all foreign policy is domestic policy.” With a strong Zionist lobby in the US, and in the absence of any counter lobby that watches over US (let alone world) interests, we are seeing a push for wars designed to help apartheid Israel – whether in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, or Syria.

3) Modern warfare kills far more civilians than military – the ratio now is >10 to 1. War is immoral, illogical, and criminal, and has no “good side” or “bad side.” The only positive thing now is that countries that use wars as their main tools (Israel, US being the key ones) will lose because wars have also become also illogical in terms of achievement of policy. Just take as examples in the past 20 years: the US attack on Iraq and Israel’s attack on Gaza and Lebanon. This is now almost a given, like the Newtonian laws of physics.

4) People still have the power to change things. Governments regularly lie to their own people – all governments. But their biggest tools are to a) create fear, b) create apathy (powerlessness). Getting people to be good consumers of propaganda and products is key to government “success” – short term as it may be – and to enrich politicians and their backers. Key to human rights success is for people to be good, involved and informed citizens.

The conflict between the two – governments and people – is the real consequential conflict we face.

It is between short term greed and long term planetary interests.

It is an existential conflict for humanity.

Stay Human

Mazin Qumsiyeh

A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine

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Israel/Palestine: Rights Workers Denied Gaza Access

Human Rights Watch
PRESS RELEASE

The Erez border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters)

The Erez border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters)

(Jerusalem) – The Israeli military authorities are blocking access to and from the Gaza Strip for human rights workers who document abuses and advocate to end them, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The travel restrictions call into question the Israeli military authorities’ claim to rely on human rights organizations as an important source of information for their criminal investigations into potential serious crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza war.

The 47-page report, “Unwilling or Unable: Israeli Restrictions on Travel to and from Gaza for Human Rights Workers,” documents how Israel systematically bars human rights workers from traveling into and out of Gaza, even where the Israeli security services make no security claims against them as individuals. Egypt is also imposing severe travel restrictions on its border with Gaza. The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s office should take note of the restrictions in the context of its ongoing preliminary examination of the Palestine situation.

“If Israel wants the ICC prosecutor to take seriously its argument that its criminal investigations are adequate, a good first step would be to allow human rights researchers to bring relevant information to light,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Impeding the work of human rights groups raises questions not just about the willingness of Israel’s military authorities to conduct genuine investigations, but also their ability to do so.”

For the last two decades and especially since 2007, Israel has kept the Gaza Strip mostly closed, preventing Palestinians from leaving Gaza to pursue educational and professional opportunities, family visits and reunification, and medical care, save on an exceptional basis. The restrictions imposed by Egypt on its border with Gaza have significantly contributed to this de facto closure. Read more »

Report reveals links between five French banks, insurance companies and Israeli settlements

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

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Paris – Several organisations (Association France Palestine Solidarité, CCFD – Terre Solidaire, Fair Finance France, FIDH, LDH, Solidaires, CGT and Al-Haq) published a report on March 29,2017 on French banks’ dangerous liaisons with the Israeli settlement enterprise. The report highlights the links between certain French banks and insurance companies and Israeli banks and businesses involved in maintaining and developing the Israeli settlements.

The Israeli settlement enterprise has persisted for fifty years. Illegal under international law, the settlement enterprise continues at an accelerated pace; the approval of 6,000 new housing units since January 2017 is merely the latest manifestation. This comes after the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2334 [1] on 23 December 2016, requiring Israel in particular to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. Read more »

UN expert warns of deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Palestine and Israel

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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GENEVA (21 March 2017) – Human rights defenders working to draw attention to abuses associated with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territory are being increasingly targeted as a result of their work, according to a new report from a United Nations human rights expert.

Michael Lynk – the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – expressed deep concerns about the shrinking space for civil society in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“As human rights defenders – Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals – persist with their intrepid activism to investigate and oppose the regime of human rights violations that is integral to the occupation. All indications are that they will continue to be the prime targets of those who are intolerant of their criticisms, yet alarmed by their effectiveness,” Mr. Lynk said.

The Rapporteur noted with alarm that Palestinian human rights defenders have been subjected to attacks, arrest, detention, and threats to their lives and safety. “They have experienced sophisticated interference with their vital work, and have faced toxic denunciations aimed at silencing them and discouraging their supporters,” he continued. Read more »

Text of Resignation Letter by ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf

The following text is the resignation letter submitted by Rima Khalaf in response to the formal request by UN Secretary General that ESCWA withdraw the publication of a report that asserts Israel is committing Apartheid.

Click here to access the full ESCWA report, which has since been removed from the UN website.

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Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

I have carefully considered your message conveyed through the Chef de Cabinet and assure you that at no point have I questioned your right to order the withdrawal of the report from our website or the fact that all of us working in the Secretariat are subject to the authority of its Secretary-General. Nor do I have any doubts regarding your commitment to human rights in general, or your firm position regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. I also understand the concerns that you have, particularly in these difficult times that leave you little choice.

I am not oblivious to the vicious attacks and threats the UN and you personally were subjected to from powerful Member States as a result of the publication of the ESCWA report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”. I do not find it surprising that such Member States, who now have governments with little regard for international norms and values of human rights, will resort to intimidation when they find it hard to defend their unlawful policies and practices. It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims. I cannot submit to such pressure.

Not by virtue of my being an international official, but simply by virtue of being a decent human being, I believe, like you, in the universal values and principles that have always been the driving force for good in human history, and on which this organization of ours, the United Nations is founded. Like you, I believe that discrimination against anyone due to their religion, skin color, sex or ethnic origin is unacceptable, and that such discrimination cannot be rendered acceptable by the calculations of political expediency or power politics. I also believe people should not only have the freedom to speak truth to power, but they have the duty to do so.

In the space of two months you have instructed me to withdraw two reports produced by ESCWA, not due to any fault found in the reports and probably not because you disagreed with their content, but due to the political pressure by member states who gravely violate the rights of the people of the region.

You have seen first hand that the people of this region are going through a period of suffering unparalleled in their modern history; and that the overwhelming flood of catastrophes today is the result of a stream of injustices that were either ignored, plastered over, or openly endorsed by powerful governments inside and outside the region. Those same governments are the ones pressuring you to silence the voice of truth and the call for justice represented in these reports.

Given the above, I cannot but stand by the findings of ESCWA’s report that Israel has established an apartheid regime that seeks the domination of one racial group over another. The evidence provided by this report drafted by renowned experts is overwhelming. Suffice it to say that none of those who attacked the report had a word to say about its content. I feel it my duty to shed light on the legally inadmissible and morally indefensible fact that an apartheid regime still exists in the 21st century rather than suppressing the evidence. In saying this I claim no moral superiority nor ownership of a more prescient vision. My position might be informed by a lifetime of experiencing the dire consequences of blocking peaceful channels to addressing people’s grievances in our region.

After giving the matter due consideration, I realized that I too have little choice. I cannot withdraw yet another well-researched, well-documented UN work on grave violations of human rights, yet I know that clear instructions by the Secretary-General will have to be implemented promptly. A dilemma that can only be resolved by my stepping down to allow someone else to deliver what I am unable to deliver in good conscience. I know that I have only two more weeks to serve; my resignation is therefore not intended for political pressure. It is simply because I feel it my duty towards the people we serve, towards the UN and towards myself, not to withdraw an honest testimony about an ongoing crime that is at the root of so much human suffering. Therefore, I hereby submit to you my resignation from the United Nations.

Respectfully

Rima Khalaf

UNRWA deplores escalating violence in southern Syria

UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
PRESS STATEMENT

UNRWA is alarmed by the escalation of violence in Dera’a Governorate, south of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Fighting among parties to the conflict in the area is causing the displacement of Palestine refugees, impeding humanitarian access to critical aid and has resulted in the deaths of Palestine refugees in recent weeks.

Over the last three days, UNRWA has been providing assistance to over 200 families who have escaped violence in the village of Jilin located 25 km west of Dera’a City. UNRWA estimates that over 90 percent of the Palestine refugee families from Jilin have fled as a result of the escalation of armed violence reported to have started on February 20. The two UNRWA schools in the village are now closed. Read more »

Human Rights comfort the afflicted

Mazin Qumsiyeh

A Palestinian woman passes an Israeli checkpoint off Shuhada Street in February 2015 (Photo: Electronic Intifada)

A Palestinian woman passes an Israeli checkpoint off Shuhada Street in February 2015 (Photo: Electronic Intifada)

We in occupied Palestine continue to be guardedly optimistic even after watching the Kafkaesque political “plays” being performed to confuse the public and keep them in the dark, and keep them fighting each other (democrat versus republican, Sunni versus Shiaa, Muslim vs Christian etc) while the RICH GET RICHER AND THE POOR GET POORER.

Remember to follow the money (do so when you see the links below). But what we common people need to do is refuse the baiting, join hands, and think of the environment, sustainability, hope, love, kindness to one another (while yes exposing the myths and challenging the elites).

John Kenneth Galbraith wrote:

“In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.”

This is the dual task we must perform. Thus we continue to tell the truth (and get arrested for it with charges like incitement) AND build models of resistance economy here locally. Read more »

2017: Palestine’s Three Dark Commemorations

Richard Falk

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Increasingly, Palestinians seem doomed to become subjects, or at best second-class citizens, in their homeland. Israeli expansionism, United States unconditional support, and UN impotence. These factors are combining to create dismal prospects for Palestinian self-determination and for a negotiated peace that is sensitive to the rights and grievances of both Palestinians and Jews.

Recalling three notable commemorations to be observed in 2017 may help us understand better how this distressing Palestinian narrative unfolded over the course of the past hundred years. Perhaps, such remembrances might even encourage the rectification of past failures, and encourage flagging national and international efforts to find a way forward even at this belated hour. The most promising initiatives are now associated with a growing global solidarity movement dedicated to achieving a just peace for both peoples. For now, neither the United Nations nor traditional diplomacy seem to have much leverage over the play of social and political forces that lies at the core of the Palestinian struggle. Only the nonviolent resistance of Palestinians to their prolonged ordeal of occupation and transnational civil society militancy seem to have any capacity to exert positive leverage over the status quo and to sustain hope. Read more »

UN rights experts: Human rights defenders under growing legal pressure in the OPT

PRESS STATEMENT
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Photo: Electronic Intifada

Photo: Electronic Intifada

GENEVA (16 December 2016) – Human rights activists working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory face daily violations of some of the most fundamental protections afforded by international human rights and humanitarian laws, two United Nations independent experts said today.

“We have received a worrying number of complaints in recent months regarding human rights defenders who are arrested and, in many cases, arbitrarily detained, often apparently as a direct result of their important work in their communities,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the OPT, Michael Lynk, and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst.

“Human rights work is critical to creating a just society and maintaining peace and security. These are the goals all parties ultimately share,” the experts stressed. “However, it appears that rights defenders are facing ever greater challenges in the OPT.”

The Special Rapporteurs drew special attention to the cases against Issa Amro, founder of the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, and Farid al-Atrash, a lawyer from Hebron, who were arrested due to their participation in a peaceful protest in February of this year. Mr. Amro is currently facing trial in an Israeli military court on 18 charges dating back to 2010, including participation in a rally without a permit. Read more »

Israeli violations against Palestinians in July

Hamas

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The Hamas Information Office has issued a report documenting Israeli and Palestinian Authority violations against Palestinians in July 2016.

According to the report, the Israeli occupation forces “IOF” had killed 8 Palestinians last month, including 7 in West Bank and 1 in the Gaza Strip.

Over the same period, IOF had arrested 434 Palestinians, including 36 minors, 26 freed ex-prisoners, and 13 women, and knocked down 42 houses and 7 agricultural and industrial facilities.

In addition, Israeli Occupation Authorities had in July approved the construction of 2152 housing units in illegal settlements erected on Palestinian lands in Jerusalem, while the occupation government had authorized two other major construction projects to be carried out on occupied Palestinian lands.

The report further documented 72 cases of arbitrary arrests by the PA security forces targeting Hamas and pro-resistance activists.

Arrest campaign intensified after Hamas declared it intends to participate in the municipality elections in the West Bank and Gaza, with 64 political arrests following that declaration.

PA apparatuses had also summoned 38 Palestinians for interrogation over political activities, 36 of whom were questioned after Hamas declared participation in the upcoming elections.

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