On October 23, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published an extensive 149-page report titled "Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent on the abuses and crushing of dissent by both the Hamas led government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank. The report comes out of 2 years' worth of research including interviews with former prisoners and activists and an analysis of the systematic abuses of human rights.
It provides an overview of a deteriorating situation in Palestine wherein the context of Israeli occupation and colonisation, the Palestinian leadership is crushing dissent and political organising. The interviews collated by HRW detail some horrific cases of torture and interrogation. One particular method known as "shabeh" was described - where detainees are held in excruciating positions for hours and even days upon end. Sometimes they are made to crouch or squat, others are hung from ceilings. In addition, prisoners held in custody are routinely beaten, often leaving scars or life-long injuries and threats are made to their families. More recently there has also been a cyber crackdown targeting journalists and activists who have been arrested for writings and social media posts.
These arbitrary arrests and interrogations of students, activists, journalists and political opposition is characteristic of many despotic regimes in the region and around the world.
While the report does not reveal anything new - indeed various Palestinian NGOs and organisations have long documented this kind of repression - it elevates these extensive and troubling details to an international platform. Importantly, it also calls on the international community to suspend the assistance to the PA security forces until it complies with international conventions.