Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip have carried out a deadly campaign of abductions, killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of “collaborating” with Israel, as well as opponents and critics, Amnesty International revealed in a new report today.
Since the end of December 2008, during and after the three-week Israeli military offensive which killed some 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, at least two dozen men have been shot dead by Hamas gunmen and scores of others have been kneecapped, beaten or otherwise tortured or ill-treated.
One man told Amnesty International delegates:
“Four masked men came to my house on 31 December 2008 at about 4pm; they were armed with Kalashnikovs. They took me behind my house; they did not say anything. They shot me in the back of my right knee and then shot my left leg three times. My relative tried to intervene but they threatened to shoot him too.”
Most were abducted from their homes and later dumped – dead or injured - in isolated areas, or found in the morgue of one of Gaza’s hospitals. Some were shot dead in hospitals where they were receiving treatment for injuries.
An Amnesty International fact-finding team which visited Gaza during and after the Israeli offensive recorded testimonies from a number of victims, as well as medical sources and eyewitnesses who were able to corroborate their stories. Scores of others are too afraid to speak publicly for fear of retribution by Hamas forces and militias.
Amnesty International is calling on the Hamas de-facto administration to immediately end the campaign of abuses and to agree to the establishment of an independent, impartial and non-partisan national commission of experts to investigate them.
Amnesty International researcher Donatella Rovera, who led the fact-finding team, is available for interview.
Read the report - Hamas' deadly campaign in the shadow of the war in Gaza (PDF)
10 Feb 2009, 1:00am