A report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) states that security forces of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) and its political rival, Hamas, routinely arrest and torture critics and opponents to try to stifle dissent, which indicates that torture is governmental policy for both the PA and Hamas. The report documented more than two dozen cases of Palestinians detained by the PA or Gaza’s ruling Hamas Islamists “for no clear reason beyond writing a critical article or Facebook posting or belonging to the wrong student group or political movement”. Officials of the PA and Hamas denied the allegations and said they were ready to investigate reports of mistreatment. “We do not have a policy of torture. This is a violation of the law,” said Eyad Al-Bozom, spokesman of the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior in Gaza. Major-General Adnan Al-Dmairi, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, said: “Arrests are being carried according to the law and we are committed to upholding the law.” HRW has urged a cut-off of foreign aid to Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, saying that the evidence it collected contradicted contentions that abuse occurred only in isolated cases and that wrongdoers were held to account.
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