NEW YORK/GAZA (EJP)---Gaza Islamist group Hamas refuted a report by an international rights group claiming the group was responsible for perpetrating human rights abuses against Palestinians in Gaza as “purely political”, as it insisted the 43-page independent report had been written “under the influence of various external parties”.
Joe Stork, Middle East Director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, however insisted there was “ample evidence that Hamas security services are torturing people in custody with impunity and denying prisoners their rights”.
Hamas, which seized political control of Gaza in 2007 and is internationally recognised as a terrorist organisation, insisted that the “inaccurate” cases highlighted in the organisation’s 43-page report, related to incidents occurring long ago and were being raised at this junction for “politically biased” purposes.
The report documented extensive violations by Hamas security services, including arrests without warrants, failure to promptly inform families of detainees’ whereabouts, and subjecting detainees to torture. It also showed violations of detainees’ rights by prosecutors and courts. It also found that military courts in the Gaza Strip frequently try civilians in violation of international law.
Fierce West Bank rivals, the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas last week called on the UN to award it non-member observer status in a bid to raise the stakes in its quest for a unilateral declaration of statehood. A spokesman for Hamas described Abbas, who is largely supported by the international community in contrast to its Gazan opposition which is outlawed by the US, EU and Israel, and his appeal to the UN as “tedious” and rejected his “absurd insistence on negotiations”.
Hamas has this week come under fire from both the western and Arab worlds, with Syrian state media criticising the Palestinian militants for turning its back on its beleaguered authoritarian leader Bashar al Assad’s regime. Describing former Assad ally Khaled Meshaal’s group as “ungrateful and traitorous” Monday, the comments showed the breakdown in relaations between the two parties following 18 months of civil war in the country and Meshaal’s public praise for Syrian rebels earlier this year, who he commended for “moving towards democracy and reform”.
The US Treasury Department also announced Thursday the introduction of sanctions on two Lebanon-based charities it claimed were proxies of Hamas. The ruling translates to the freezing of any US-based assets held by al-Waqfiya and al-Quds and means that all US individuals and entities are banned from donating to the charities. America insist the groups exclusively support families of Hamas fighters and prisoners as well as funding programs to increase Hamas’ influence in the Palestinian territories.
Unaligned Palestinians rights group, The Independent Commission for Human Rights reported receiving 147 individual complaints about torture being inflicted by Hamas security forces in 2011 alone, seemingly corroborating Human Rights Watch’s findings.