bearded gazan 88.
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Once, Hamas members were afraid to wear beards for fear of being arrested by Israel's security forces. Today, they are once again afraid of appearing in public with beards - this time for fear that they will be killed or kidnapped by Fatah militiamen in the Gaza Strip.
Sources close to Hamas said over the weekend that at least 10 bearded men have been shot and killed in the past week after being stopped in the street by Fatah gunmen.
One case was caught on camera and has since appeared on the Youtube Web site. The film shows several Fatah gunmen shooting a bearded man in the legs. As the man lies in a pool of blood in the street crying for help, a Fatah gunman approaches him and fires at his head from an automatic rifle, killing him instantly.
"This man was just an ordinary citizen who happened to wear a beard," said a Hamas official. "It's become very dangerous to appear with a beard on the streets of the Gaza Strip."
According to the Hamas official, most of the victims were killed execution-style by Fatah militiamen and members of various Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority security forces.
They include two journalists working for the Hamas-affiliated Falasteen newspaper, Suleiman Ishi and Muhammad Abdo. "The two are not members of Hamas, but they were killed simply because they had beards," he said. "They were kidnapped by members of Mahmoud Abbas's Presidential Guard and executed in a Palestinian security installation."
Another Hamas official in Gaza City said that many young men had begun shaving their beards for fear of being identified as Hamas members. "We never imagined that the day would come when Muslim men would be afraid to walk in the street because they are wearing beards," he said.
He said that about 40 bearded men have been hospitalized after being kidnapped and shot in the legs by Fatah gunmen in the past few days. Doctors have been forced to amputate the legs of some of them because of the severity of their wounds, he added.
Fatah accused Hamas militiamen of using the same method against its members. Several Fatah and PA security officers who had been abducted by Hamas militiamen were shot in the legs and left to bleed in the street, said a senior Fatah official in Gaza City.
He said three members of the PA National Security Force were shot in the legs on Saturday after being kidnapped by Hamas militiamen earlier in the day. The three, Abdel Rahman Barawi, Khalil Abu Shawish and Ala Abu Shamaleh, were admitted to the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City for treatment.
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