Hamas Internal Security ‘has track record of false arrests and excessive force’.
The activities of Hamas security agents have been strongly criticised by Human Rights Watch, which reported that at least 32 people were summarily executed during or just after the 2008-9 war. None of these killings followed a proper trial and all were based on uncorroborated claims of collaboration with the enemy.
The same repression by Hamas Internal Security agents has been documented ever since the bloody four-day clashes during June 2007. In those, Hamas fighters overthrew their rivals Fatah, who were in charge of the security services controlled by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. The Hamas Internal Security used extensive detention and interrogation techniques similar to those employed in the Fatah-controlled West Bank, according to a number of human rights reports.
Walid Abu Delfa was one victim. He and his brother Khalil were detained in Gaza City by Hamas for ‘security reasons’, a fact admitted to the BBC Panorama programme by the Hamas Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniya. Both men were then seriously assaulted by Hamas security personnel.
Walid died while Khalil survived. Despite the risks of further detention or torture Khalil and his family spoke to Panorama about their ordeal.
As he was being beaten, Khalil says he heard the cries of his brother from the next cell. “I could hear my brother’s voice, the same thing was happening to him. He was calling to me over and over. He was asking for help from God. Suddenly his voice stopped,” Khalil recalled.
The behaviour of the Hamas Internal Security agents in arresting dissident Mohamed Abu Muailek and the international film-maker chronicling his story, Paul Martin, follows a long-established and continuing pattern of detentions and executions. “What has kept him alive and at least going through some sort of trial is that he has received international attention, but Hamas is still so far unwilling to admit its mistakes when it comes to locking up Palestinians,” Martin said.
RETURN TO GAZA
Reporter: Jane Corbin
RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC ONE
Hello, I’m Jeremy Vine and this is Panorama. A land the world would rather forget where just about the only job left is smuggling guns across the border.
MASKED MAN: This shipment is for someone who has ordered 70 rifles. We’re going to get them for him now.
VINE: And after years of fighting a common enemy, its leaders have now turned on each other.
ANGRY WOMAN: If they can’t agree then we don’t want either of them.
VINE: A thin strip of land on the Mediterranean coast, Gaza could be a holiday destination like Greece or Turkey, and yet it’s anything but. Home to a million and a half Palestinians living under virtual siege conditions, it has no strategic value, no oil, no gas, and these days no industry, and yet a bloody battle has just been fought over it. Nearly 7 weeks after the release of the kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston, Jane Corbin has been back to Gaza to find out how its people are living and what hope there is for the future.
CORBIN: The Abu Delfa family have found out what happens under Hamas rule when you’re accused of being a collaborator.
TAMARA: They killed my father. They killed my father.
CORBIN: Tamara’s father, Walid, a member of a rival faction, was seized at dead of night a month ago by Hamas militiamen. His brother, Khalil survived and talked to us the day after he was released.
KHALIL: Here are the marks. They tied our hands. They tied our arms to a chain hanging from a beam and kept pulling them up like this. They beat us on our hands, on our feet. Four of them attacked me, they beat us, they broke us. At the same time I could hear my brother’s voice, the same thing was happening to him. He was calling to me over and over. He was asking for help from God. Suddenly his voice stopped. I can still hear it now in my mind.
CORBIN: While their father was abducted by Hamas gunmen the Abu Delfa family say the killing may have been a personal vendetta. They don’t know if it was authorised at the top level, but they’re calling on Mr Haniya to investigate.
Since Hamas took over here in Gaza a few weeks ago, there have been human rights abuses. There have the killings of several people. We know of one family, the Abu Delfa family who lost their father. How can you justify this? These are forces, Hamas forces that have carried out these killings.
ISMAIL HANIYA: I want to assure you that the prisoner was not arrested for political reasons but for security reasons. We have established a commission to investigate the incident, learn lessons and ensure it won’t happen again under any circumstances.
CORBIN: There is no evidence of widespread political killing, but disturbing incidents continue. When guests started singing pro-Fatah songs at this wedding, Hamas’ Executive Force arrived. Several people were injured. Since the takeover Fatah-linked TV and radio stations have been closed down.