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PCHR Demands the Public Prosecution to Open an Investigation into the Police Assault on a Detainee, PCHR Condemns Detaining his Wife and Children to Force Him to Surrender

Ref: 02/2002  

Palestinian police officers in Gaza city assaulted Mohammed Fayez Abulatta (31) on the grounds of a personal fight he had with a member of the General Investigation Service near his home. The officers, some of whom were masked, physically assaulted Abulatta and broke both of his legs, after he was arrested and detained. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns the law enforcement officers’ undermining of the rule of law and taking the law into their own hands. PCHR calls for a serious investigation into the incident and to bring perpetrators to justice.

According to PCHR investigation, police officers arrested Abulatta near Nussairat refugee camp on 20 January 2020, on the grounds of a personal fight he had with a member of the investigation police who was in civilian clothing at the time. The fight took place in Shuja’aya neighborhood in Gaza City on 17 January 2020. The police accuses Abulatta of raising a blade weapon to the officer’s face.

The detainee’s brother, Rami (35), stated that he learned that his brother was at al-Shifa Hospital late on Monday, 20 January 2020. Abulatta’s family was not allowed to visit him until Wednesday, 22 January 2020.  Rami added that they saw Mohammed with both legs fractured and splinted to the knee, and with bruises on his face.  Quoting his brother, Rami said that the police officers directly beat him up at the police station and took him to a bystreet in al-Shalehat area, where masked men beat him with steel bars.  He was then taken to al-Shifa Hospital, where doctors confirmed Mohammed did not sustain any fractures.  When they found out, they took him back to the same area and beat him again until both legs were broken and then they took him to the hospital.  Rami also said that his brother stayed at the hospital for 2 days and then taken back to prison in a very bad health condition that requires medical care, noting that the hospital has not given them any medical report.

Abulatta pointed out in his statement that after the quarrel, the police officers raided and searched the family house in al-Shuja’iyia neighborhood looking for Mohamed without a warrant from the Public Prosecution. The police officers detained Mohamed’s 3 brothers in al-Shuja’iyia Police Station and told them that they would not be released until Mohamed turns himself in. In the evening, the police officers detained Mohamed’s wife and their 2 children Ilyaas (3) and Batoul (2) to exert pressure on him to surrender. Mohamed’s brothers and children were released while his wife remained in custody until the next day.

PCHR warns against the police normalization of such practices, which constitute crimes punishable by law, as they are considered felonies and a flagrant violation of human rights. PCHR emphasizes the need to confront such practices.

PCHR calls upon the Attorney General in Gaza to open a serious investigation into the incident and identify the circumstances of the assault on Abulatta and the cruel treatment his family was subjected to by the police, especially his wife and children. PCHR demands that all those involved be brought to justice.