Amnesty International accuses Hamas of 'horrific abuses'

Group calls it 'propaganda, focus should be on Israeli crimes'

27 May, 18:51

    (by Aldo Baquis) (ANSAmed) - TEL AVIV/GAZA, MAY 27 - Hamas committed grave abuses in Gaza during the war last summer with Israel, according to an Amnesty International report released Wednesday. The abuses included the summary execution of at least 23 Palestinians and torture of dozens of others ''to spread fear'' among its political rivals in the Gaza Strip. The report, entitled 'Strangling Necks: Abduction, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict', marks the second time in only a few months that Amnesty International has directly accused Hamas, after speaking out against the launching of thousands of rockets at Israeli territory. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the report was based on ''propaganda'' to make the movement seem worse than it is. Barhoum charged Amnesty with failing to verify with Hamas the grounds for the accusations. The report, he said, ''takes attention away from crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation towards the children, women and elderly of our population''. The drafters of the report listed a number of cases it described as ''spine chilling'' in which Palestinians accused by Hamas of helping Israel were tortured and killed, which may constitute war crimes. Special mention is made of the case of Atta Najjar, a former Palestinian Authority (PA) policeman who was serving a 15-year prison sentence imposed by a military court that had found him guilty of collaborating with Israel. On August 22, 2014, he was taken out from the prison and executed.

    Najjar's brother is quoted in the report as saying that there were ''marks of torture and bullet wounds on his body. His arms and legs were broken and his body was as if you'd put it in a bag and smashed it''. The report states that some of the torture of Hamas prisoners occurred in an abandoned clinic in the perimeter of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. Another incident cited in the report happened in public on the same day at the entrance to the Al-Omari mosque in the presence of hundreds of people including children. Six Palestinians accused of ''collaborating with Israel'' were hooded and shot to the head by a pistol, and then riddled with bullets by Kalashnikovs. Amnesty International said that it was unacceptable that no one had been punished in Gaza for this brutality and called for ''independent and international'' verification. Hamas replied by saying that the organization would do better to focus on the crimes allegedly committed by Israel and submit the documentation to the International Criminal Court.

    (ANSAmed).

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