Palestinian police 'beat children' protesting against electricity cuts

Palestinian police 'beat children' protesting against electricity cuts
Palestinian police have been accused of beating children who were protesting against power shortages, Fatah has said.
3 min read
07 August, 2016
Palestinians have been protesting about energy services in the West Bank [Getty]
Palestinian police have been accused of using heavy-handed techniques against children as young as 12 , who were protesting against electricity cuts in their West Bank town.  

Sources in Yamoun, west of Jenin in the northern West Bank, said police were sent to handle a protest outside an electricity company's office on Thursday.

"The Palestinian special security forces used excessive force against the people of the town after a protest was held by a number of boys, some throwing stones at the [electricity] company's headquarters in Yarmoun," said Mohammed Abu al-Hija, secretary general of Fatah in the town.

"Police began assaulting people in their homes arrested people randomly." 

According to Abu al-Hija, those arrested included a child as young as twelve and one youth suffering from a disability.

Mohammed Houshia, 11, told The New Arab that the Houshia home had been attacked in a "barbaric" way, with policemen hitting the family with sticks.

Mohammed sustained bruising and was taken to hospital for treatment. His family have filed a complaint.

"The Palestinian police summoned my son, Abdul Karim, my nephew and a number of children [to security building] but they did not attend".
The cause of the cuts are reportedly due to an Israeli provider company.

Mohammed Abu al-Hija warned of the deteriorating situation and escalation in the West Bank if the dire electricity situation continues.

He said that the solution is only to solve the electricity problem with frequent power cuts, causing disruption in everyday life.

The cause of the cuts are reportedly due to an Israeli provider company.

The West Bank has a complex electricity quagmire; much of the area's electricity is from Israel, which is then sold to the PA, who sell it to companies who supply households.

Refugee camps in the West Bank used to be exempt from electricity costs.

However, after Palestinian power companies complained about accumulating debt, Salam Fayyad, former Prime Minister of the PA, signed a deal in 2013 that required Palestinian refugees to pay their own costs.

A Palestinian from Balata refugee camp, Nablus, protested the plan by attempting to set himself on fire.

Since then households in refugee camps have faced increasing debts, and experiencing increasingly severe power outages leading to protests and subsequent crackdowns by the Palestinian Authority. 

Hija added that Palestinian police must stop acting in such a way against the people and demanded the resignation of the police chief in Jenin.

A spokesman for the Palestinian police, Louay Arziqat told The New Arab that the police moved in, accompanied by Palestinian National Security forces after being a report of an assault on public property.

The spokesperson denied the arrest or assault of any child and called on the residents of Yamoun to file complaints against security personnel.

The Fatah movement in Yamoun called on President Mahmoud Abbas to form a commission of inquiry to identify the events in Yamoun, emphasising the context of upcoming local elections in Palestine.

The movement stressed that the security services in Palestine should ensure the safety and security of citizens without resorting to abuse or assault, and will prosecute anyone who assaults children.

Last year, the Palestinian Authority came under attack after its police were caught on camera beating demonstrating children.