Hamas water park fire 311.
(photo credit:AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Unidentified gunmen set fire Sunday to the Crazy Water Park, one of the Gaza
Strip’s most popular entertainment sites.
Eyewitnesses said that at least
25 men participated in the predawn attack. The gunmen beat the two night
watchmen, bound their hands and confiscated their mobile phones before setting
the complex on fire, they said.
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Manager Ala al-Araj, a former cabinet
minister in the unity government formed after the Palestinian Authority
elections in 2006, said that the water park was closed down by Hamas two weeks
ago. He said that no one was injured in the attack, which destroyed the Gaza
City resort completely.
No group claimed responsibility for the arson and
the Hamas government, which issued a strong condemnation, promised to pursue the
perpetrators and bring them to trial.
Two human rights organizations also
condemned the torching of the water park and called for an immediate
“The attackers stormed the resort using a four-wheel drive
vehicle,” one of the guards told a human rights group. “Then they and another
group of gunmen set fire to the two main buildings, a Beduin tent and 300
nargilas [water pipes].”
The Hamas government had ordered the closure of
Crazy Water Park for three weeks under the pretext that it did not have a proper
Last month, Hamas policemen raided the resort and expelled
dozens of men and women who had gathered for a fast-breaking meal during
Ramadan. The owner of the facility was summoned for questioning and warned not
to hold events where men and women sit together.
Sources in the Gaza
Strip said that Hamas has been targeting the water park because the owners
violated an order banning women from smoking nargilas in public
Last week, the Hamas authorities closed down the Sama seaside
restaurant, also in Gaza City, where a woman was seen smoking a
Human rights activists said that Hamas has recently stepped up
its efforts to impose strict Islamic observances in the Gaza Strip.
noted that last week Hamas closed down the Aseel Horse Club, also under the
pretext that it was operating without a proper license.
also raided the Beach Hotel and handed the owner an order closing it down for
three days, because one of the hotel restaurants had allowed a woman to smoke a
Two weeks ago, Hamas policemen also stormed two halls in Gaza
City where cultural events were taking place and kicked out the
The owners of the halls were asked to sign a pledge that they
would not host such events in the future.
Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the
Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, condemned the attack on Crazy Water Park,
describing it as a “criminal case.”
He vowed that Hamas would do its
utmost to capture the culprits. He added that the resort had been closed down
because of “violations of the law,” but did not elaborate.
Water Aqua Fun Park was opened in May. The landscaped park featured
swimming pools, a canal 100 meters long, three water slides, ponds with
boats, a restaurant, a cafe, and a quiet area shaded by a tent where
could sit on carpets and listen to music.
Admission was NIS 10, but using
the water slide cost another NIS 5, and going into the pool cost an
The atmosphere was secular, with popular tunes playing over the
loudspeakers and women dressed in Western clothing.
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