Hamas convicts Gaza peace activist for crime of talking to Israelis

Rami Aman released after six months in a Hamas jail, but remains muzzled under threat of re-arrest if he talks peace.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Gaza peace activist Rami Aman was convicted by the Hamas terror group for talking to Israelis, but had his one year sentence suspended and was released from jail, a Gaza human rights organization announced Monday.

Aman — a 38-year-old journalist from the Gaza Strip — was arrested by Hamas in April for what the military rulers called “holding a normalization activity with the Israeli occupation” after he participated in a two-hour meeting with Israelis. titled “Skype With Your Enemy.” The event actually took place on the Zoom platform in a conversation described as a way to “open a channel of communication between Gazans and Israelis.”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, whose lawyers represented Aman and two of his colleagues, said Hamas had “no legal or factual basis for a conviction” and that the charges “lacked both factual and moral elements.”

The rights group slammed Hamas for its policy of arresting peace activists, saying the Iran-backed terror group “violates the simplest principles of justice” as well as the Palestinians’ “international obligations.” The PCHR also noted that the law Hamas used was “unconstitutional and illegal” because it came from the terror organization, not from any approved Palestinian legislative body.

“I’m a stronger person with the same vision,” Aman told the New York Times, but indicated he wasn’t ready to resume his peace activities and risk getting arrested again. “I need to think about how to approach things in the future.”

Hillel Neuer, director of the human rights watchdog agency UN Watch, had spearheaded a campaign that united 70 human rights organizations who called on the UN Human Rights Council to take action against Hamas on behalf of Aman.

“To all of our followers who over the past 200 days joined us in awakening the conscience of the world about Hamas’ cruel, arbitrary and unjust detention of a peace activist—the most inspiring, visionary and courageous man in Gaza—thank you for helping to #FreeRamiAman,” Neuer tweeted.

The pro-Palestinian group Human Rights Watch, which is normally virulently anti-Israel and supports boycotts against the Jewish State, also weighed in with its condemnation.

“Ramy Aman’s release makes today a good day, but 6+ months in detention & conviction for a video chat with Israelis highlights Hamas’ persecution of those who don’t toe the party line,” tweeted HRW’s local director, Omar Shakir.

Amnesty International, whose former consultant Hind Khoudary alerted Hamas to the Zoom call, has not commented on the release. Despite recruiting 70 human rights NGOs to pressure Hamas to release Aman, Neuer noted Amnesty’s silence on the issue.

“He is a prisoner of conscience. Yet Amnesty International refuses to campaign for his release. Why?” Neuer tweeted last week.