Hamas waged a deadly campaign as war devastated Gaza

Injured victim of a Hamas attack

Injured victim of a Hamas attack

© Amnesty International

12 February 2009

Hamas gunmen have shot dead at least two dozen men since the end of December last year. In the same period, scores of others have been shot in the legs, subjected to severe beatings which caused multiple fractures and other injuries, or otherwise tortured or ill-treated, according to evidence given to Amnesty International.

Hamas’ deadly campaign took place during and after the Israeli military offensive that killed some 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians. The campaign began shortly after the beginning of the three-week Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip at the end of December 2008 and continued after a ceasefire took effect on 18 January 2009.

The targets include former detainees accused of “collaborating” with the Israeli army who escaped from Gaza’s central prison when it was bombed by Israeli forces on 28 December 2008. Other targets included former members of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces and other activists of the Fatah party.

Most of the victims were abducted from their homes; they were later dumped – dead or injured – in isolated areas, or were found dead in the morgue of one of Gaza’s hospitals. Some were shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment for injuries they sustained in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza’s Central Prison.

The perpetrators of these attacks did not conceal their weapons or keep a low profile, but, on the contrary, behaved in a carefree and confident – almost ostentatious – manner.

An Amnesty International research team was in Gaza for two weeks in January compiling evidence of abuses carried out in the context of the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. Among the cases investigated by Amnesty International are the deliberate killings of three brothers from the Abu ‘Ashbiyeh family, ‘Atef, Mohammed and Mahmoud, from Jabalia (north Gaza).

All three were killed within 24 hours of escaping from Gaza’s Central Prison. One of the brothers, Mahmoud, aged 24, reached the family home in the middle of the afternoon of 28 December, but, an hour later, a group of gunmen came to the house and took him away. His body was found hours later in the morgue of Kamal ‘Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya (north Gaza) with abdomen and head wounds.

The following day, the bodies of his two brothers, 26-year-old Mohammed and 39-year-old ‘Atef, were found in the morgue of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, both with gunshot wounds in the head, chest and abdomen.

The three had been in detention since March 2008 and were accused of “collaborating” with the Israeli army. They had first been held in the notorious al-Mashtal detention centre, north of Gaza City, run by the Internal Security Force (previously run by Hamas’ armed militia, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades).

As well as those accused of "collaboration" with the Israeli army, other detainees from Gaza Central Prison were found dead with gunshot wounds hours after the prison was bombed by Israeli forces and the detainees fled. Among them was Nasser Mohammed Mhanna, a 34-year-old father of six, and a commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s armed militia.

Nasser Mohammed Mhanna had been detained since August 2008 and was serving a two-year prison sentence on charges of participating in the attempted assassination of Hamas’ deposed Prime Minister Isma’il Haniyeh. On the afternoon of 28 December 2008 his body was found in al-Nafaq Road, on the outskirts of Gaza City. He had been shot in the head and eye from close range.

There is no doubt that those mentioned above and many other victims were abducted, killed, shot and tortured by Hamas forces and militias – for they are the only ones who are allowed to operate with such degree of freedom throughout Gaza.

"Hamas must end the campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats in which their forces and militias have been engaged since the end of December 2008," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, who returned from Gaza last week.

"They must agree to the establishment of an independent, impartial and non-partisan national commission of experts to investigate human rights abuses committed by its forces and militias and any other parties since December 2008 and pledge to cooperate with such a commission and allow it to carry out its work."

Palestinian Authority: Hamas' deadly campaign in the shadow of the war in Gaza: Media Advisory

Index Number: MDE 21/001/2009
Date Published: 10 February 2009
Categories: Palestinian Authority

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