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Human rigths groups seek Gaza abuses probe

Zondag, Februari 8, 2009

Al Jazeera, February 8, 2009.

Human rights groups have called on Hamas officials to investigate widespread
allegations of abduction, torture and the killing of Palestinians accused of being
collaborators during Israel’s war on Gaza.

Al Jazeera has been shown sworn affidavits, medical records and photographs
of alleged victims of reprisals committed against Fatah supporters by security
agents or associates of Hamas.

“I think that the officials from the Hamas deposed government have the
responsibility to investigate into these incidents … and bring those who have
committed those crimes to justice,” Randa Siniora of the Independent
Commission for Human Rights, said on Sunday.

“There is a state of vigilantism and chaos, lawlessness in the Gaza Strip right
now,” she said.

“Extrajudicial killings have increased during the Israeli aggression.”

Separately on Sunday, the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights
called for an investigation into the death of a man beaten in the custody of
security forces loyal to the Hamas movement.

Jamil Shakoura died in a Gaza hospital after receiving a number wounds to his
head while detained, the group said.

He was not believed to be affiliated to any political group and it was not clear
why the security forces were investigating him.

Human rights groups say that at least three people have died while in detention
since Hamas seized full control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after pushing out
security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and head of
Fatah.

Abuse allegations

Khalil Abu Shammala, a human rights monitor, told Al Jazeera that dozens of
Fatah members were shot and tortured as Israeli forces bombarded the Gaza
Strip for 22 days.

Naem Atallah told Al Jazeera that he found the body of his son Osama, a Fatah
supporter, at Gaza’s Shifa hospital after he was taken away from the family
home by 10 masked men.

“I asked them who are you? They answered that they are from the
internal security. I asked how do I know you are from internal security and one
showed me his ID card,” he said.

Osama, a teacher and father of five children, had been strangled, suffered blunt
force trauma to his head and been shot in the shoulder.

Another Fatah supporter, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals,
said that he had been shot in the leg three times by Hamas loyalists.

“They shot me because I am Fatah,” he told Al Jazeera.

“There were 15 guys with hoods over their heads. Three of them asked
me to stand against the wall and asked me my name. Three started shooting.”

Hamas investigations

Hamas officials have said that they have several investigations under way into
the claims of extrajudicial beatings, torture and killings.

“All our investigations are open to everyone,” Ihab al-Ghusain, a spokesman for
the Hamas interior ministry, told Al Jazeera.

“Nobody is allowed to kill anyone, beat anyone, arrest anyone.”

However, all of Al Jazeera’s attempts to arrange to view the files on the
ongoing investigations went unanswered.

Relations between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah have been strained since 2007,
but Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, denied that the movement’s leaders
are encouraging a policy of targeting rival Palestinians.

“I don’t ignore that there were some mistakes made by members of Hamas, but
I think that is not a policy adopted by the leadership here,” he said.

“I think it’s a shame for Palestinians to arrest each other or torture each
other; its very shameful so we have to stop it.”

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