Wednesday, May 27, 2015

27-May-15: Amnesty shines light on fabrications and deletions in last summer's Gaza fighting

In the Gaza Strip, the authorities (Hamas) have their customary ways
of dealing with rivals [Image Source]
A major report by Amnesty International into the shadowy workings of the terror organization Hamas was released yesterday (Tuesday). It reveals how - in the midst of the massive rocket war launched against Israel by Gaza's Islamist rulers last summer - the Islamists conducted a vicious Arab-on-Arab blood-letting campaign directed at their fellow Gazans.

At the time it was underway, the Hamas savagery received scant news media attention (and as far as we know, no photographs) from the numerous reporting teams sent to cover the fighting with Israel. It's by no means clear this will now change.

As Philip Luther, director of its Middle East and North Africa Programme, and no friend of Israel, describes it, the Hamas ruling clique seized 
"the opportunity to ruthlessly settle scores, carrying out a series of unlawful killings and other grave abuses... In the chaos of the conflict, the de facto Hamas administration granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuses including against people in its custody. These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip... Not a single person has been held accountable for the crimes committed by Hamas forces against Palestinians during the 2014 conflict, indicating that these crimes were either ordered or condoned by the authorities."
A few excerpts [the full text is here as a PDF]:
  • Hamas forces abducted, tortured or attacked members and supporters of Fatah, their main rival political organization within Gaza, including former members of the Palestinian Authority security forces. 
  • As well as carrying out unlawful killings, others abducted by Hamas were subjected to torture, including severe beatings with truncheons, gun butts, hoses and wire or held in stress positions. Some were interrogated and tortured or otherwise ill-treated in a disused outpatient’s clinic within the grounds of Gaza City’s main al-Shifa hospital.
  • "Hamas authorities and leadership have continuously encouraged and facilitated these appalling crimes against powerless individuals. Their failure to even condemn the unlawful killings, abduction and torture of perceived suspects leaves them effectively with blood on their hands," said Philip Luther.
  • [Quoting the Gazan brother of a Gazan victim of the Hamas barbarians:] "Even if he had been sentenced to death, there would have been an appeals process and other alternatives. What they have done is nothing to do with justice, it’s just criminal..."
  • Many of these unlawful killings were publicly billed as attacks against people assisting Israel during the July and August 2014 conflict as part of an operation, codenamed “Strangling Necks”, to target “collaborators”. However, in reality, at least 16 of those executed had been in Hamas custody since before the conflict broke out. Many had been awaiting the outcome of their trials when they were taken away from prison and summarily executed...
The specific case of Ayman Taha gets special treatment in the Amnesty report itself. Taha's father had been one of the founders of Hamas and the son was Hamas' representative to Egypt’s intelligence authorities. It's interesting that what follows below is barely mentioned in today's news coverage of the report. 

News reports on August 7, 2014 (an example is below) said Taha's body had just been brought to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. But that's not exactly right. Amnesty provides the previously-missing background: Taha had been detained by Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades on January 23, 2014 and since that time had been in a state of "totally disappeared". In fact, Taha's body had turned up at al-Shifa three days before those August 7, 2014 news reports dumped at the hospital's front door with bullet wounds to the head and chest. Then (keep track) it disappeared for a few days - no explanation is offered - and then turned up a second time which is when the reports appeared in the Arab papers. Hamas had conceded back on February 22, 2014 that "it was holding him on charges of misconduct, corruption and profiteering", though Amnesty points out that it knows of no formal charges having been brought against him. 

Here's what the news industry had been told, and dutifully repeated. It's the text of an AFP news item from August 7, 2014
Amnesty shows that the August 2014 AFP report
blaming Israel for Taha's death is fabricated [Image Source]
A former spokesman for Hamas was found dead Thursday in a neighbourhood of the city that was heavily bombed by Israel, the movement said. Ayman Taha was killed when Israeli forces “targeted him in the apartment where he was with several others in Gaza City” in the Shejaiya neighbourhood, the group said in a statement... He was severely wounded and died later, the statement said. The body of Taha, who was living in the Bureij refugee camp in the centre of the enclave, “arrived at Shifa hospital in Gaza City before it was transferred to his family’s home in the Bureij camp,” a medical source said. [AFP, August 7, 2014]
Thanks to what Amnesty has disclosed, and no other media outlet till now, it is fairly plain that Hamas was inventing stories to cover its acts of score-settling, rival-eliminating murder. A pity the global news syndication agencies (including AFP) skipped over that part of Amnesty's document in today's news items.

Luther again:
"The Hamas leadership repeatedly calls for rights and justice for Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere... Hamas forces have displayed a disregard for the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian law. Torture and cruel treatment of detainees in an armed conflict is a war crime. Extrajudicial executions are also war crimes... [T]he Hamas authorities are dragging the name of justice through the mud and condoning these appalling crimes..."
AFP, in its coverage of the Amnesty indictment, adds
A March report by Amnesty found that rockets fired during the war by Gaza militants killed more Palestinians than Israelis.
And for readers waiting patiently for Hamas to change its nature in the wake of the Amnesty revelations, the response of a spokesperson, quoted in the New York Times, blames Israel (hard to believe, no?):
for creating a “situation of chaos” during the war. Mushir al-Masri, a spokesman for Hamas, said that Israel had attacked the Gaza security services, preventing them from managing Palestinian internal affairs properly. "The Amnesty report about Hamas needs to be more precise," Mr. Masri said in a telephone interview.
Stand by for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, condemnation of Hamas by the UN Human Rights Council, and flying pigs.

1 comment:

Joe in Australia said...

You need to update the URL; Amnesty seems to have shifted the page. As for the rest: well said.