How Hamas Terrorizes Gaza's Citizens

A frightening report by Human Rights Watch.

The U.S., along with the European Union and Israel, considers the Palestinian Hamas regime ensconced in Gaza a terrorist organization primarily because of its use of suicide bombers and its covenant which vows to replace Israel with a Palestinian Islamist state by force of arms.  Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, much less make peace with it. The Guardian reported on January 8, 2009 that

The incoming Obama administration [was] prepared to abandon George Bush’s doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organization, according to a source close to the transition team.  In 2006 the U.S. Congress voted into law a ban on any U.S. financial aid to Hamas.  Most recently, despite Congressional objections, the Obama administration [as reported by] on April 13, 2012, sent $147 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Hamas-run Gaza for “humanitarian purposes.”

It has since been revealed, in a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), that Hamas is perpetrating gross human rights abuses against its own Palestinian people.

Joe Stork, Deputy Middle East Director for the New York-based HRW, charged this week that, “After five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights, and grants impunity to abusive security services.”

According to Saudi-based Arab News, an HRW report titled “Abusive System: Criminal Justice in Gaza” alleged that Hamas security services failed to inform relatives of the whereabouts of detainees, and had arrested and abused lawyers.  Stork added that “Hamas should stop the kind of abuses that Egyptians and Syrians and others in the region have risked their lives to bring to an end.”

Stork is right about Hamas’s abuse of its Gaza residents and is somewhat correct about Egyptians and Syrians risking their lives to bring an end to the arbitrary justice meted out by these authoritarian regimes.  Regretfully, the Islamists have managed to hijack both revolutions, and it is apparent that Hamas’s Islamist “justice” will serves as a model for the future of criminal justice under the “revolutionary” Islamist regimes in Egypt and Syria.  The Islamic Republic of Iran - a key supporter of (Sunni-Muslim) Hamas -- is another example of Islamist justice (of the Shia variety) where torture, rape, and murder of detainees are commonplace.

The HRW report calls on the Hamas regime in Gaza to institute urgent reforms, and a moratorium on the death penalty. One category of people upon whom the death penalty is imposed is alleged “collaborators with Israel.”  This distinction has become a convenient way in which to settle any criminal scores, and on many occasions is meted out without a shred of evidence.

The HRW report cited the case of Abdel Karim Shrair, who, according to family members and lawyers, was tortured under interrogation before being executed by a firing squad in May 2011, after confessing to collaborating with Israel.

The Guardian reported on October 3, 2012 that the European Union condemned the death sentences that were handed down last month to two men in Gaza, one for murder and the second for alleged collaboration with Israel.  Martin Barillas, a former US diplomat, a democracy advocate, as well as the editor of Spero News, reported on December 8, 2010 that a military tribunal composed of Hamas members convicted three men of alleged collaboration with Israel. One of them received the death penalty.

According to a Palestinian Authority (PA) law, the president of the PA must approve all execution orders before they can be carried out, yet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not consulted since Hamas does not recognize the legitimacy of his presidency. And, earlier in April of 2010, Hamas subjected two men to capital punishment on charges of collaboration with Israel. In 2008, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, at least eight people were murdered by Hamas for allegedly helping Israel fight terrorism by providing information on local terrorist groups.  In September 2011, Hamas cracked down on collaborators with Israel, detaining residents of the Gaza Strip, including two physicians, an engineer, and members of Hamas itself. Hamas refused to identify those who were arrested.

Martin Barillas reported that the "Hamas campaign has created fear and suspicion." According to local media, a resident confided that the Islamist campaign has had a really bad impact on society.  People no longer trust each other. He said, “We don't talk openly with each other.” And HRW charged that Hamas has killed at least 32 alleged informers and political opponents during and after Operation Cast Lead and maimed dozens of others.

The HRW report accused Hamas of failing to investigate alleged cases of torture and abuse, while granting impunity from prosecution to security services officials.  The HRW report claims, moreover, that “the intra-Palestinian political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah remains a significant factor behind many of Hamas’ abuses against detainees in Gaza.” The report goes on to say that the "Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank also arrests and detains Palestinians arbitrarily, including Hamas members or sympathizers, and similarly subjects detainees to torture and abuse.”

The Hamas missile attacks against Israeli civilians, especially women and children, as well as its disregard for its own people as indicated in the HRW report should put the Obama administration squarely against this terrorist group allied with the genocidal regime of Iran. But instead of seeking its demise some in the Democratic Party and in the Obama administration would like to portray Hamas as a “victim.” Ruben Navarrette, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers group, wrote on September 12, 2012, “There has long been a constituency on the left that despises Israel for what it perceives to be abusive treatment of the Palestinians.  And, it seems, this element made itself heard at the Democratic National Convention.”

Navarrette pointed out that “[a]lso deleted [from the 2012 Democratic Party platform along with references to God and Jerusalem] was language recognizing Hamas as a terrorist organization and calling on the U.S. and its allies to continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abide by past agreements.” And, while Jerusalem and God were hastily restored into the 2012 Democratic Party platform, a day later after an outcry in the media, the condemnation of Hamas was omitted.

This means, for all intents and purposes, that Obama, his administration and his party’s platform, consider the condemnation of a terrorist organization that murdered Israeli women and children, as well as Palestinians, too controversial to put in its platform. Will this week’s HRW report change the Obama administration's attitude towards Hamas? I would side with the skeptics.

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