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Hamas on Tuesday strongly denied claims by the Palestinian Authority that its security forces has stopped torturing inmates in its prisons.
Hamas also denied rumors that al-Qaida members have begun operating in the Gaza Strip.
"Torture in Palestinian prisons in the West Bank has not stopped completely," Hamas legislators in the West Bank said, adding that the commanders of the PA security forces have been misleading human rights organizations and the media.
The legislators claimed that new methods of torture have been introduced by the PA security forces, including forcing detainees to stand for hours and to stand naked in low temperatures, as well as verbal abuse and threats.
They added that according to testimonies of released detainees, many were deprived of sleep for days and held in harsh conditions in solitary confinement.
Earlier this week, the PA organized a tour for reporters to one of its prisons in Nablus, where Hamas inmates said that the torture had ended.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was quoted as saying that the decision to halt any abuse was an independent one and not the result of pressure from human rights organizations.
Fayyad said that 43 officers have been jailed, fired or demoted for abusing prisoners.
But Muhammed Mutlak Abu Juhaisheh, a Hamas legislator from the West Bank, said that he was continuing to receive complaints on a daily basis about torture in PA prisons. One of the most common methods of torture being used by the PA security forces was forcing detainees to take off their clothes and stay for several hours in large refrigerators, he said.
He also said that detainees had complained that they were forced to sleep on the floor without mattresses and blankets.
Accusing the PA government of lying, the Hamas legislator said that earlier this week, a detainee named Shaher Yehya was transferred to a hospital in Hebron after suffering serious wounds as a result of brutal torture in prison.
He added that in many cases detainees were released by one branch of the PA security forces only to be arrested by another. He mentioned as an example the case of Anwar Harb, a resident of the village of Bet Ula in the Hebron area, who was re-arrested by the PA Preventive Security Service one day after he was released by the General Intelligence Service.
In a related development, PA security forces have arrested Mustafa Sabri, a journalist from Kalkilya, on suspicion of being affiliated with Hamas. This was the fourth time in recent months that Sabri had been taken into custody for the same reason.
Meanwhile, Hamas denied rumors that al-Qaida operatives had infiltrated the Gaza Strip. Ihab al-Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry, said that there was no presence whatsoever of al-Qaida in the Gaza Strip. The rumors in this regard were aimed at justifying a "new aggression" against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, he said.