Hamas force condemned for political arrests, press restrictions

On Friday 10 August 2007, the Hamas-affiliated Executive Force (EF) attacked two wedding parties and a civilian demonstration. It also arrested several Fatah members and a cameraman in Beit Hanoun town, northern Gaza Strip.

According to investigations by Al Mezan, at approximately 5pm on Friday members of the EF arrested four of Fatah’s high ranking members in Beit Hanoun. They were identified as 41-year-old Faris Nai’m, 45-year-old Maher Abu Harbid, 40-year-old Issa Al Mughrabi, and Shihdeh Abu Zreiq. The latter is the headmaster of Hail Abdul Hamid Secondary School.

Provoked by this conduct, citizens from the town gathered and marched toward the police station, which is run by the EF, and called for the release of those who were arrested. As the march approached the station, EF members opened fire in the air and beat many demonstrators to disband them, eyewitnesses told Al Mezan.

Later, at approximately 9pm on the same day, members of EF broke into the wedding party of Attaf Rafiq Nai’m and the wedding party of Amjad Jamil Al Ba’a, both in Beit Hanoun. EF members fired in the air and beat many attendants. TV stations showed the EF vehicles crashing the chairs in one of the parties. At approximately 10pm clashes erupted between inhabitants of the town and the EF. It was reported that people stoned the EF, apparently in a protest to the attacks on the weddings. Thirty civilians were injured, among them four children and five women. In addition, the EF arrested 49 people, of whom eight were still detained by the time of issuing this release. According to affidavits given to Al Mezan by some of those who were released, they were beaten and maltreated by the EF.

The EF’s attack on one of the weddings was widely covered by the local and international media as Ramattan’s cameraman, Raed El Kafarneh, filmed it. He was summoned to the police station and kept under the EF’s custody for about one and a half hours. He was released later at 11.50pm.

It was also reported that at approximately 11pm on Thursday, 9 August 2007, members of Hamas’ military wing, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, arrested 17 members of Fatah in Abssan town, east of Khan Younis. Eight of them were released a few hours later. According to Al Mezan investigations, they were beaten and subjected to degrading treatment.

Al Mezan Center renews its condemnation of the arbitrary detention of Fatah members. It also deplores the repetitive aggressive attacks by the EF on wedding parties, especially as no use celebratory fire was reported.

Al Mezan strongly condemns the restrictions being imposed on journalists’ right to work freely. These acts represent violations of human rights as well as domestic law, both of which assert the protection of human freedom and dignity, prohibit restrictions on the freedom of expression, and protect the right to freedom from cruel and degrading treatment.

Al Mezan therefore calls for a prompt investigation into the conduct of the EF and Al Qassam Brigades’ members and for holding those who committed such violations accountable under the law.

Related Links

  • Al Mezan Center for Human Rights