The security services in Gaza arrested at least nine persons in three separate incidents on Saturday, 4 July 2020, who were attending the funeral of Sulaiman al-Ajouri, who reportedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Al Mezan’s field investigations show that members of the security services in Gaza arrested Ghasan Sadi Musalam, 37, Fadi Mohammed Othman, 38, and Khalil Adib Salim, 33, at around 1:30pm near Beit Lahia’s cemetery in North Gaza, just after they had left al-Ajouri’s funeral. The men were taken to the local police station and released the same day.
In a similar incident, officers of the Interior Ministry’s General Investigations Department arrested two journalists from the Palestinian Media Group, Ahmed al-Ras, 35, and Helmi al-Ghoul, 26, who were covering al-Ajouri’s burial. They were both detained for one hour at the local police station, where they were interrogated about the nature of their work, before being released.
Further, at approximately 7:30pm, four more persons were arrested in the vicinity of Sheikh Zayed neighborhood, North Gaza, after visiting the deceased man’s family to pay their respects. According to Al Mezan’s field information, officers of the security services traveling in a blue vehicle and a white mini-bus stopped the four men, two of whom were identified as Yousef Khalil Hassan, 25, and Ahmed Awni al-Malahi, and transferred them to the police station, before releasing all four the same day.
Although the General Investigations Department in North Gaza released all persons arrested in the aforementioned incidents on Saturday, some were summoned back in the days following, and alarmingly, others reported being beaten and verbally abused during interrogations surrounding posts they made on social media that called for peaceful assemblies. Their cell phones were also confiscated.
Al Mezan condemns the incidents and demands a halt to the arbitrary arrests and summons orders that are carried out in violation of due process, and stresses that duty-bearers are obligated, under Palestinian and international law, to promote public liberties and respect human rights, notably relating to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.
Al Mezan further affirms that the problem of suicide in Gaza is symptomatic of the rising level of frustration and despair felt among Palestinian inhabitants. Thirteen years of closure, recurring outbreaks of hostilities, and the Palestinian political division have degraded the living conditions of the population in Gaza. The root causes of these problems must be addressed, and effective policies based on equal opportunity and fair distribution of resources must be adopted.
Accordingly, Al Mezan reiterates its calls on the Palestinian authorities and political factions to work together, in good faith, to end the internal division, as it is the main instigator of a wide range of human rights violations in occupied Palestine, and to promote human rights and freedoms for all Palestinian citizens. The international community must uphold its moral and legal obligations and humanitarian objectives in Gaza through tangible steps to bring about an end to the unlawful closure.