Palestinian security forces that have been detaining and apparently torturing Hamas supporters on the West Bank have been working closely with the CIA, the UK Guardian reports, citing anonymous official and diplomatic sources. The two named Palestinian agencies are the Preventive Security Organisation (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI). One senior western official said: “The [Central Intelligence] Agency consider them as their property, those two Palestinian services.” A diplomatic source added that US influence over the agencies was so great they could be considered “an advanced arm of the war on terror.”
According to the Palestinian watchdog al-Haq, human rights in the West Bank and Gaza have “gravely deteriorated due to the spreading violations committed by Palestinian actors” this year. Even the PA’s human rights commission has expressed “deep concern” over the mistreatment of detainees.
The most common complaint is that detainees are severely beaten and subjected to a torture known as shabeh, in which they are shackled and forced to assume painful positions for long periods. There have also been reports of sleep deprivation, and of large numbers of detainees being crammed into small cells to prevent rest. Instead of being brought before civilian courts, almost all the detainees are a military justice system military justice, with no right to appeae before a court for six months. According to PA officials, between 400 and 500 Hamas sympathizers are held by the PSO and GI. (The Guardian, Dec. 17)