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Amnesty Int'l: No justification for PA violently storming peaceful protest

A senior Amnesty International official sharply criticized the Palestinian Authority security forces on Monday for violently cracking down on a protest in front of a Ramallah courthouse earlier this week.

“There can be no justification for violently storming a peaceful protest,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, the human rights organization’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement on the group’s website.

“Video evidence obtained by Amnesty International shows Palestinian security forces resorting to brutal and alarming means to crush the protest in flagrant violation of their obligations to uphold and protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Mughrabi said.

Palestinian protesters on Sunday gathered in front the Magistrate’s Court in Ramallah to protest a trial against five Palestinians charged with possessing weapons illegally.

Shortly after the protest commenced, PA security forces fired tear gas, exploded stun grenades and beat protesters with batons. They also targeted a number of journalists, preventing them from doing their job.

“Today is a dark day for human rights. What happened today was planned aggression against participants in peaceful protest,” Farid al-Atrash, a Palestinian human rights leader, stated at a press conference late Sunday.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday announced the formation of an investigative committee into the crackdown on the demonstration and vowed to hold all those who violated the law accountable.

“The law is above everyone, including security personnel,” Hamdallah said.

In her statement, Mughrabi called on Hamdallah “to ensure that the investigation announced into this incident is independent, impartial and thorough and that all those found to be responsible are held accountable for their actions.”

During a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Hamdallah expressed his sorrow for Sunday’s events and reiterated his pledge to hold violators accountable.

Mughrabi’s statement also comes after hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets on Monday evening to protest the PA’s security policies, namely security cooperation with Israel.

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