Hamas human rights violations against Gaza Palestinians, 2010

Published: 11 June 2010
Briefing Number 258

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Summary:  This Briefing describes various Hamas human rights violations in Gaza, against the Palestinian people:     

- Hamas security forces attack and close down the offices of various Palestinian Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs)

- Hamas security forces permit an armed Palestinian gang to attack a Palestinian childrens’ UN summer camp on a Gaza beach

- Hamas demolish around 40 homes of Palestinian families in Rafah

- Hamas diverts incoming humanitarian aid for political purposes
- Leading international NGO Human Rights Watch appeals for Hamas to stop executing Palestinians accused of being collaborators, and to give such accused people a fair trial

Key messages:  Virtually no attention is given to Hamas treatment of the Palestinian people in Gaza.  Most Western commentators on the Middle East, and politicians, are silent in the face of the Hamas internal human rights record.  They blame Israel for the condition of Gaza’s Palestinians.  They increasingly demand an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza without considering how this would embolden Hamas.  And they demand engagement with Hamas without conditions.   Such commentators and politicians are actually complicit in Hamas human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. They are helping Hamas to perpetuate these injustices, and tighten their grip on Gaza.
Yes, Israel’s policies are tough, and cause hardship.  But it is not Israel which is ultimately responsible for the situation of Gaza’s Palestinians. It’s Hamas rejectionism, and their internal intimidation of the Palestinian people.  This Briefing is just a snapshot of a dire human rights situation.   

Background: Hamas rule in Gaza in 2010

Hamas were democratically elected by Gaza’s Palestinians to the Palestinian Assembly in Gaza, in January 2006.  But their conduct since then has been anything but democratic.  Hamas ousted their Palestinian opponents Fatah in an extremely violent coup in June 2007, killing over 140 opponents (see Beyond Images Briefing 198 – the Hamas takeover of Gaza: Quickly Forgotten Facts). 

And they sustain their power in Gaza today through brazen disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people. 

This Briefing provides a snapshot of recent human rights violations by Hamas in Gaza. 

Hamas internal security forces raid the offices of various Palestinian NGOs in Gaza, drawing condemnation from the UN

On 1 June 2010 Hamas security forces raided the offices of several Palestinian non-governmental organisations in Gaza, confiscating documents and  equipment.  They informed staff that the Hamas government was closing them down “indefinitely”.  Among the Palestinian NGOs raided by Hamas were:

  • The National Reconciliation Committee
  • The Palestinian mini-Parliament
  • The Sharik Youth Institution
  • The South society for Palestinian Womens’ Health
  • The Women and Children Society

    The raids were reportedly carried out without court permission. Hamas spokesmen refused to comment further on the raids.  The Gaza-based al-Mezan Human Rights Group “expressed outrage” and called on Hamas to open an investigation.

The UN’s Special Coordinator in the Gaza Strip, Robert Serry, said:

“This targeting of NGOs, including UN partner organisations, is unacceptable, violating accepted norms of a free society, and harming the Palestinian people. …. The Hamas authorities must cease such repressive steps….” 

Source: report by Arab affairs journalist Khaled Abu Toameh in the Jerusalem Post, 4 June 2010

Hamas security forces permit an armed Palestinian gang to attack a children’s summer camp run by the UN on a Gaza beach  

The Economist newspaper reported as follows on 29 May 2010:

'Last week, a band of 30 Palestinian men, masked and armed, assaulted a UN summer school for Palestinian children which was running on a Gaza beach. 

Hamas's security forces, which supposedly safeguard security on the beach, let the gang pass through to carry out their attack on the camp'.  

According to the Economist, Hamas has been “turning Gaza into something close to a one-party state” since 2006.  And it sees UN agencies and childrens’ summer schools run by the UN as a threat to their control of the children of Gaza, and ability to indoctrinate them.

Source: The Economist, 29 May 2010

Hamas demolish around 40 homes of Gaza Palestinians living in Rafah

On the weekend of 15-16 May 2010, Hamas destroyed the homes of many Palestinian residents in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. 
Hamas police reportedly beat residents, forced them out of their homes, and then bulldozed them. 

Hamas officials claimed that the homes were built illegally.

One of the homeless Gaza Palestinians, a 54 year old woman, said:

"Hamas promised reform and change - instead they have destroyed our homes.  We have nowhere else to go. .. I found my mattress, and that's where I will be sitting....."

According to the same report, a 56 year old Palestinian neighbour described being beaten by Hamas policewomen wearing veils, and how she, her husband, and two children fled their home.

Palestinian residents of Rafah said between 30 and 40 houses were demolished.  Hamas did not allow reporters into the area until the demolitions were over.

Source: Ynet News, 21 May 2010

Hamas diverts incoming humanitarian aid for political purposes, imposes high taxation, and attacks on human rights groups

The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) is a well-established American newspaper which is frequently highly critical of Israel.  Here are extracts from a new CSM report (with bold by us), written the day before the latest flotilla of boats from the Free Gaza campaign were due to arrive:

"Every time aid comes in from abroad", says Gaza-based political analyst Talal Okal, "it goes through Hamas, everybody knows that..... They want to show that they dominate everything, and that everything in Gaza passed under their eyes.  So, if these boats arrive, Hamas will receive aid and distribute it how they want, to their supporters and according to their policies". The CSM report continues:

"Palestinians living in Gaza say Hamas has sought to bring more and more under its control in Gaza in recent months, raiding the offices of human rights organisations and embarking on an extremely unpopular taxation campaign as it grapples with serious cash shortages. 
Hamas also keeps an eye on - and in some cases completely controls - the goods that come through the smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.  Okal says that the starkest example of Hamas aid cronynism was when Hamas individuals and supporters were seen driving ambulances brought for Gaza's hospitals by British parliamentarian George Galloway's Viva Palestina convoy in January 2010....."

Source: Christian Science Monitor news report, 30 May 2010  

Human Rights Watch condemns Hamas for its use of executions, and for failing to provide a fair trial

On Tuesday 6 April 2010, leading international NGO Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) released its 2009 Human Rights Report.

The report condemned Hamas for sentencing 16 Palestinians to death in 2009, and eight people in 2010.  HRW said that the death sentence was “inherently cruel” and that the verdicts handed down by Hamas military courts in Gaza “violate fair trial standards”

“We are dealing here with convictions in trials that don’t come close to meeting fair trial standards” said Joe Stork, the Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch. 

Source: Jerusalem Post report by Khaled Abu Toameh, 7 April 2010 

The HRW condemnation follows its April 2009 report documenting a pattern since December 2008 of “arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, maiming by shooting, and extrajudicial executions by alleged members of Hamas security forces” (a direct quote from Human Rights Watch press release, 20 April 2009). That HRW finding was based on interviews with witnesses and victims in Gaza, and case reports by Palestinian human rights groups.

Related Beyond Images resources:  Briefing 233, 2 February 2009 – ‘Gaza Palestinian victims of Hamas human rights violations and war crimes’