UN criticizes Hamas for endangering own people

Hamas closed a main crossing from Gaza into Israel, causing a long line of troubles for the Palestinians under their rule.

The United Nations (UN) and human rights groups accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of endangering their own people by closing the main crossing with Israel.

Hamas imposed the lockdown in the wake of the mysterious killing of a senior commander last week. It has accused Israel of being behind the killing.

Hamas has restricted movement with its rare closure of the Erez crossing — the main point for Gazans who need to enter Israel for medical care or travel.

Hamas has been on high alert since the body of Mazen Fuqaha, 38, was found with four gunshots at the entrance of his Gaza City home on Friday night. Fuqaha’s killers used a silencer and fled before the body was discovered. They remain at large.

After the killing, Hamas set up military-style checkpoints throughout Gaza, prevented fishermen from going out to sea and barred all residents and foreign aid workers from leaving the coastal strip. On Monday, it eased the closure to allow some patients and families of prisoners held by Israel to exit Gaza. Male patients between the ages of 15 and 45 are still barred.

Delaying Aid and Endangering Patients

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday 79 patients have missed medical appointments, forcing them to reapply for hard-to-get travel permits from Israel. OCHA say international experts are unable to enter Gaza, delaying much-needed aid projects, while local union officials say 4,000 fishermen have not set sail since Saturday.

Akram Attallah, a Gaza-based columnist, wrote the closure of Gaza was “a collective punishment the Palestinians should not be conducting.”

The Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian watchdog, called on Hamas to end the closure, while Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that usually battles Israel, condemned Hamas’ restrictions.

“Security concerns do not give any actor free reign to violate human rights,” Gisha said. “Freedom of movement is a fundamental human right.”

Hamas’ Interior Ministry says the restrictions will remain until further notice. It has imposed a gag order barring publication of investigation details.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body that coordinates movement through the crossing, said the daily number of people passing through dropped from over 1,000 to 230. It said Kerem Shalom, the main cargo crossing for deliveries into Gaza, operates as normal.

The agency accused Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, of “causing a constant tension between the will to help the civilian Gaza residents and our duty to protect the citizens of Israel.”

By: AP and World Israel News Staff