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Al Mezan strongly condemns the police crackdown on peaceful protests in Gaza and assaults on journalists

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6 August 2023 |Reference 49/2023

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the crackdown by local security forces on peaceful protests held in various districts of the Gaza Strip on Friday, 4 August 2023. As reported last week, Palestinians in Gaza took to the streets to protest the electricity crisis and soaring unemployment levels and to demand improved living conditions.

According to Al Mezan's field reporting, dozens of vehicles and members of the Palestinian police were deployed in the streets and intersections leading to the designated gathering areas before the protests began at 5 p.m. on Friday, 4 August 2023, to restrict people’s access to these areas.

In Khan Younis, security forces dispersed and attacked a gathering of several youths near the Abu Hmaid roundabout. Journalist Ihab Fasfous, 44, was assaulted and had his cell phone confiscated, while journalist Mohammed al-Haddad, 34, was threatened by a plainclothes individual claiming to be a member of the intelligence, who told him that he was not allowed to take photographs and requested him to leave the area.  

In the North Gaza District, security forces arrested several persons who were participating in a rally near the Al-Trans area in the center of Jabaliya Refugee Camp. Among those arrested were journalists Mohammed Abdelrazeq al-Baba, 55, and Bashar Ahmed Taleb, 34. They were detained for 45 minutes in the Jabaliya police center and later released after their cell phones and cameras were searched. Security forces also prevented lawyer Mohammed al-Bardawil of the Al-Dameer Foundation for Human Rights from carrying out his duties at the scene of the incidents.

Al Mezan reiterates his strong condemnation of the police crackdown on protesters and the attacks on journalists during Friday's demonstrations. We reiterate our call for the Public Prosecutor's Office to conduct a serious and full investigation into the reported attacks, including actions taken by security personnel to disperse the protesters. Local police and security personnel must facilitate and protect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion and expression, as well as implement the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of people in the exercise of these rights.

Lastly, we call on government departments in the Gaza Strip to carefully consider the legitimate demands of the demonstrators, revisit their policies related to electricity, taxes and municipal plans, and adopt economic and social policies that take into account the conditions of society and support the resilience of the population in the face of severe social and economic conditions resulting from the prolonged Israeli closure and blockade and internal political division.