‘US-Trained Armed Forces Turning PA into Police State’
The United States may have created a Frankenstein in the Palestinian Authority, which human rights groups fear is using U.S.-trained forces to build a police state.
“I feel real concern that we are reaching the level of a police state,” according to Ramallah-based human rights group director Shawan Jabarin, quoted by the Financial Times.
The United States has taken pride in its training PA ”policemen,” avoiding use of the words "armed forces" in order not to violate Oslo agreements. General Keith Dayton, who recently stepped down as director of the training program in the PA, has said the forces have been instrumental in eliminating Arab terror.
However, most of the terrorists and their supporters who have been arrested belong to Hamas, which threw its bitter rival Fatah out of Gaza in a bloody military war more than three years ago.
The Financial Times noted that PA politician Badr Abu Ayyash was arrested in September by the “Preventive Security Unit,” which allegedly tortured him to the point that he can hardly walk today. Other prisoners were quoted as saying that Hamas members are routinely beaten and tortured.
Human Rights Watch last month stated that “reports of torture by Palestinian security forces keep rolling in.” Randa Siniora, the director of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, told the Times, “We are looking at a very gloomy situation. I am afraid that this will become systematic.”
The anti-Hamas actions may prevent inroads by fundamentalist Muslim members of Hamas, but European countries, which generously fund the Palestinian Authority, have openly questioned whether their contribution justifies the PA becoming a police state.
The U.S. State Department five years ago encouraged the PA to establish democratic elections for the first time. However, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was shocked to discover that Hamas won the legislature.
Since then, no general legislative elections have been held, and PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas continues to serve beyond his expired term, leaving the PA without any signs of the democracy that the United States introduced.
Ahmed Salhab, who said he was tortured in a PA prison, told the Times, “I had to eat lying on my back. I had to pray on my back and other inmates had to carry me to the toilet. I never broke the law. In the past, nobody would have believed that the PA would torture its own people. But now everybody knows that they do not respect human rights.”
Hamas charged on Monday that continuing arrests of its members in Judea and Samaria “are poisoning the atmosphere. A statement from its Damascus headquarters stated, “More than 50 armed men of the security services of the Palestinian Authority on Sunday night raided the home of MP Fathi al-Qarawi, arrested one of his sons and confiscated computers." It also charged that a preacher was “kidnapped” from her home in Shechem.