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January 13, 2016

Hamas Cracks Down—on Palestinian Journalists

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Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigade members


Ayman al-Aloul, a Palestinian Arab journalist, said in an Associated Press interview on Jan. 12, 2016 that he was kidnapped and tortured by Hamas, the U.S.-listed terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, for criticizing them.

Al-Aloul said that after spending nine days in jail he will no longer write about “politics,” according to an AP dispatch by Fares Akram that appeared in both The Washington Times (“Journalist in Gaza says he was tortured in Hamas jail,” Jan. 13, 2016) and The Boston Globe. Now he will only focus on topics like food, sports, literature and fashion.

The journalist reported being beaten by Hamas and said the experience was “very difficult” and made him a “new man.”

Although Al-Aloul is a reporter for an Iraqi TV station, it was his personal social media activity that drew Hamas’ attention and ire. On those platforms the reporter advocated Hamas withdrawal from the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. He proposed letting the Palestinian Authority manage the crossing instead, arguing that Egypt had closed the Rafah since it didn’t want to deal with Hamas.

Additionally, he “also published pictures of people looking for leftover food in garbage containers, quoted business owners angry over increased taxes and blamed Gaza authorities for prolonged power blackouts,” AP reported.

The reporter was detained along with Ramzi Herzallah, another Hamas critic, on January 3. The two were arrested at their homes in Gaza City.

Both men were released on January 11. Al-Aloul reported had been “repeatedly slapped on the face by his interrogators and twice sent to a room euphemistically known as ‘the bus.’” Al-Aloul described “the bus” as being a room filled with children’s chairs, in which captives are forced to sit for an entire day.

AP added:

“Mr. Al-Aloul’s experience is part of a crackdown by Hamas at a time when the continuing miseries of life in Gaza appear to be driving its population toward more open dissent. Critics have grown bolder on social media sites, and attempts by Hamas to impose new taxes have triggered rare public protests.”

Torture of Palestinian Arabs by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), has increased, according to an article by Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh (“Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Responsible for Torture,” Gatestone Institute, Jan. 8, 2016).

According to Toameh, The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), a Palestinian group that seeks to promote “inherent values of justice, equality and human rights,” reports that over the last two years there has been an increase in complaints about torture in prisons run by Hamas and the PA.

ICHR’s director general, Dr. Ammar Dwaik, stated the group received 782 complaints regarding torture of Palestinian Arabs by Hamas and the PA. Six-hundred-fourteen of those were in the Gaza Strip and 168 in the PA-ruled West Bank. Thirty-five journalists were reported detained in 2015 and “at least” 15 were “summoned for interrogation or briefly detained for posting controversial comments on social media, especially Facebook.”

In an editorial, The Washington Post (“The Palestinian Authority disregards the rule of law in arresting a journalist,” January 14) noted that the PA had also arrested journalist Salim Sweidan on January 7 for writing that the PA had provided Israel with information on a Hamas terror cell.

Toameh reports that the PA “has used international aid funds to build prisons and detention centers in the West Bank where torture has become the norm.”

The journalist laments that torture of Palestinians by Hamas and the PA receives too little attention from many news media outlets and human rights organizations. “For them,” Toameh writes, “human rights violations are news only when they come with a “made-in-Israel” sticker on them. Yet their obsession with Israel might just kill the Palestinians. Particularly at risk are those who daily put their lives on the line to halt Hamas and PA violence against their own people.”


This post was update on Jan. 15, 2016 to reflect the recent Washington Post editorial


Posted by SD at January 13, 2016 04:43 PM

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