Annual Report: Palestinian Authority 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Palestinian Authority 2013

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Palestinian Authority

Head of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas

Head of government Salam Fayyad

Arbitrary arrests and detentions by both the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip continued, particularly of their respective political opponents. In both areas, security forces tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees with impunity. Four detainees died in custody in suspicious circumstances; two in Gaza and two in the West Bank. Palestinian armed groups in Gaza continued to commit war crimes by firing indiscriminate rockets into Israel, especially during an eight-day armed conflict with Israel during November. During that conflict, Hamas' armed wing summarily killed seven men accused of “collaborating” with Israel. Both the PA and Hamas arbitrarily restricted the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and their security forces used excessive force against demonstrators. Women in both areas continued to face violence and discrimination; at least six women were reportedly killed in “honour” killings. In Gaza, at least five people were sentenced to death and six people were executed. One man was sentenced to death in the West Bank; there were no executions there. The 1.6 million residents of the Gaza Strip continued to suffer severe deprivation due to Israel's ongoing military blockade and the sanctions imposed on Hamas by other states; however, conditions eased in comparison to previous years.

Background

On 29 November, the UN General Assembly granted Palestine non-member observer state status. The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip remained under Israeli occupation, and two separate Palestinian authorities operated with limited powers – the Fatah-led PA government in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza.

Efforts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas and form a unified Palestinian government continued with Egyptian and Qatari mediation.

The PA held local elections in the West Bank in October but political parties associated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad did not participate; the Hamas authorities in Gaza prevented the registration of voters there. The judiciary in the West Bank briefly suspended work in October in protest against alleged government interference.

Israel maintained its military blockade of Gaza, in force since 2007, controlling its land and sea borders and airspace. The blockade continued to impact severely on Gaza's civilians, including children, the elderly and sick, although more people were able to travel through the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt than during previous years. Around 20 Palestinians were killed in accidents while using tunnels to smuggle goods between Egypt and Gaza.

In the West Bank, Israel maintained extensive restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and continued to develop and extend Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land in breach of international law.

Israeli forces carried out aerial and artillery attacks on the Gaza Strip periodically throughout the year and during an eight-day military campaign in November, killing many civilians and destroying homes and other civilian property. Palestinian armed groups periodically fired indiscriminate rockets into Israel from Gaza, and fired over 1,500 rockets during the November conflict.

Abuses by armed groups

Both before and during the November conflict, Palestinian armed groups associated with Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Salafi-affiliated groups committed war crimes by firing indiscriminate rockets and mortars into Israel. Some fell short in Gaza, killing at least two Palestinians. Others struck homes and other buildings in Israel, killing four Israeli civilians during the November conflict, injuring scores and damaging civilian property. Those responsible were not held to account by the Hamas authorities.