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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hamas' 'justice'

We hear often how since Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip, the 'gangs' that used to dominate the Strip no longer do so. We hear how things are 'safe' and 'quiet.' And although we hear occasional stories about attempts to arrest journalists or occasional attempts to shutter medical clinics, Gaza is generally portrayed in the media as a quiet place that has economic problems because the world is cutting it off economically.

What we hear is a lie. Meryl Yourish looks at what is really going on in Gaza:

With both legs badly bruised from a vicious beating, Shaher Abu Oda can only move around with a painful shuffle. In the town of Beit Hanoun, on Palestine’s Gaza strip, however, he is just one of many young men bearing limps, plaster casts, and stitches - the black and blue aftermath of an unprecedented crackdown on dissent by the strip’s new rulers, the Islamist group Hamas.

What was Oda’s awful crime?


Its officials snatched Mr Abu Oda off the streets two weeks ago as he was trying to find his younger brother Miqbil, himself badly beaten after club-wielding Hamas policemen broke up a wedding party. The revellers’ crime had been to sing a few songs associated with the Fatah party, the rival Palestinian faction which Hamas ousted from the Gaza Strip two months ago. “They threw me in a room,” said Mr Abu Oda. “From 11.30 to 3.30 in the morning, they came in every 15 minutes and beat me with sticks, fists, kicks, and a black leather crop.”

Fatah songs.

As many as 50 people are thought to have been arrested in Gaza’s Beit Hanoun district around the night of the wedding, and similar sweeps have taken place elsewhere in Gaza since then. The detentions and beatings appear to mark the end of a relative honeymoon period for Hamas, which seized control of Gaza after five days of battle in June.

The early days of the group’s reign saw aggressive crackdowns on drug dealers, theft, and violent clans, as well as the freeing of BBC journalist Alan Johnston from the clutches of a criminal faction aligned to al-Qaeda. Such moves led to calls for Britain and Europe to open formal dialogue with Hamas, despite its commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel.

Yes, and it looks like the bloom is off the rose.

Now though, human rights groups and ordinary Gazans say Hamas is committing exactly the same crimes as its Fatah predecessors, whose corruption and brutality were one of the main reasons why support for Hamas grew. “We are receiving reports of political detentions every day,” said Mahmoud Abu Rahma, of the Gaza City-based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights. “Hamas is conducting wide sweeps and interrogations to collect information. The interrogations include harsh treatment, and in many cases, torture and beatings.”

Yeah, about those human rights groups… not seeing anything on Human Rights Watch’s site currently. There’s this release urging Fatah and Hamas to treat captives humanely. This was when they were throwing each other off buildings in Gaza and executing captives.

And this one should go into Charles Johnson’s random quote generator:

“Fatah arrested and tortured people too,” said a senior official from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an independent political faction. “But during Fatah’s rule we could give our opinions, and say anything we wanted about the Fatah leadership. Today people are afraid of saying anything about Hamas.”

Well, the first part is true.
Read the whole thing.


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