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PA Security Forces

Six PA security forces operated in the West Bank. Many of the security forces are under the PA Ministry of Interior operational control and follow the prime minister’s guidance. The Palestinian Civil Police have primary responsibility for civil and community policing. The National Security Force conducts gendarmerie-style security operations in circumstances that exceed the capabilities of the civil police.

In 2008 the Israeli MOD approved a package of Russian arms transfers to the Palestinian Authority, though with some restrictions. The GOI approved the transfer of twenty-five out of fifty requested BRT 70 APCs, and without the mounted light machine guns that the PA had wanted; 3,000 Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition; and two helicopters which will be based in Amman and for which the Israelis agreed to provide an air corridor to Ramallah.

The Military Intelligence agency handles intelligence and criminal matters involving PA security force personnel, including accusations of abuse. The Military Intelligence agency is responsible for investigations into allegations of abuse and corruption involving PA security forces and can refer cases to court.

The General Intelligence service is responsible for external intelligence gathering and operations; the Preventive Security Organization is responsible for both internal intelligence gathering and investigations related to internal security cases (for example, antiterrorism, weapons violations, and money laundering). The Presidential Guard protects facilities and provides dignitary protection. Generally, Palestinian security forces continued to demonstrate improved performance levels, especially while maintaining order during demonstrations on days of national significance to Palestinians, such as the “Nakba” and “Naksa” days. The ICHR continued to report accusations of abuse and torture at the hands of the security forces to the PA.

Israeli authorities operated under military and civilian legal codes in the occupied territories. Israeli military law applied to Palestinians in the West Bank, while Israeli settlers were under the jurisdiction of Israeli civil law. Under Israeli military law, detainees can be held for up to 90 days without access to a lawyer, and authorities frequently transferred detainees from the West Bank to Israel for detention or interrogation. The Israeli military courts had a conviction rate of more than 99 percent for Palestinians. Authorities informed detainees of the charges against them during detention, but DCI-Palestine reported authorities did not inform minors and their families at the time of arrest. Israeli authorities stated their policy was to post notification of arrests within 48 hours, but senior officers may delay notification for up to 12 days, effectively holding detainees incommunicado during the interrogation process.

Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip frequently interfered arbitrarily with personal privacy, family, and home, according to reporting from local media and NGO sources. NGOs reported numerous cases of home searches and property seizure without warrants targeting journalists, Fatah loyalists, civil society members, youth activists, and those whom Hamas security forces accused of criminal activity.

Hamas forces monitored private communications systems, including telephones, e-mail traffic, and social media sites, by demanding passwords, access to personal information, and seizure of personal electronic equipment of detainees. While Hamas membership did not appear to be a prerequisite for obtaining housing, education, or government services, authorities commonly reserved employment in some government positions in Gaza, such as the security services, for Hamas members only. In several instances Hamas detained individuals for interrogation and harassment based on the purported actions of their family members, particularly prodemocracy youth activists.

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