Amnesty International has released a new report charging Hamas with serious war crimes – against its own population.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff
Amnesty International, a human rights monitoring organization, has charged Hamas with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The leading international watchdog on Wednesday accused the Hamas terror group of abducting, torturing and killing Palestinians in Gaza during the war against Israel last summer.
Amnesty International detailed the abuses in a report, titled “Strangling Necks: Abduction, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.”
According to the London-based human rights group, some 23 Palestinians were shot and killed and dozens more were arrested and tortured by Hamas, which rules Gaza. The Palestinians targeted were either political rivals of Hamas, including members of the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas, or people the group had accused of cooperating with Israel, Amnesty said.
Wednesday’s report highlights a particularly brutal incident, which it said took place in Gaza on Aug. 22.
“In one of the most shocking incidents, six men were publicly executed by Hamas forces outside al-Omari mosque…in front of hundreds of spectators, including children,” Amnesty said. Hamas had announced that the men were suspected “collaborators” who had been sentenced to death in “revolutionary courts,” the rights group added.
“The hooded men were dragged along the floor to kneel by a wall facing the crowd, and then each man was shot in the head individually before being sprayed with bullets fired from an AK-47,” the report said.
Hamas violently seized Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas in 2007, leaving Palestinians bitterly divided — with Hamas ruling Gaza and Abbas governing areas in Judea and Samaria. Since then, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at Israel and fought three wars with the Jewish state.
Hamas used the war last summer to “ruthlessly settle scores, carrying out a series of unlawful killings and other grave abuses,” Amnesty’s Philip Luther said. “These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.”
According to Amnesty, 16 of the people killed by Hamas were already being held by the militant group when the conflict erupted and many had been waiting to hear the verdict of their Hamas-organized trials. “Many had been sentenced after trials before courts whose proceedings are grossly unfair. A number had said they had been tortured in order to extract ‘confessions,'” the report said.
Amnesty’s report also said that Hamas abducted and tortured people in an outpatient clinic that was no longer in use, within the grounds of Gaza City’s main hospital, Shifa.
“Hamas forces have displayed a disregard for the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian law,” Luther stated. “Torture and cruel treatment of detainees in an armed conflict is a war crime. Extrajudicial executions are also war crimes.”
Not the first report on Hamas war crimes
This was not Amnesty’s first report citing Hamas human-rights abuses during the 2014 war. In March, the group accused Hamas of war crimes for launching unguided rockets and mortars from civilian areas in Gaza toward civilian areas in Israel, saying it was a breach of international law. Six civilians in Israel were killed in such attacks, and 13 Palestinian civilians died when a Palestinian projectile launched from the Gaza Strip landed in a Gaza refugee camp.
Salah Bardawil, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the incidents mentioned in the report took place “outside the framework of the law” and that Hamas was investigating them.