Human rights activist attacked twice in Gaza Strip

Mahmoud Abu Rahma is reportedly in in critical after penning article criticizing Hamas's endangering of civilians.

January 19, 2012 02:37
2 minute read.
Hamas rally

Hamas rally 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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A prominent Palestinian human rights activist who criticized Palestinian armed groups for the use of “human shields” has been attacked twice since the beginning of the month, human rights groups in the Gaza Strip said Wednesday.

Mahmoud Abu Rahma, International Relations director at the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, was stabbed last Friday numerous times. He is reported to be in critical condition.

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Several Palestinian human rights groups issued statements strongly condemning the stabbing and calling on the Hamas government to launch a serious investigation into the case. The center said that the first assault occurred on January 3, when masked men attacked Abu Rahma with their fists outside his home in the Strip. He was not injured.

“Abu Rahma has received many threats on his mobile and e-mail, including messages threatening his safety and life,” the center said in a statement released Wednesday.

According to the messages, the threats are motivated by an opinion article he had published entitled “The Gap between Resistance and Governance.” The center said it had filed complaints with all the relevant authorities in the Strip, urging them to take action. No group has assumed responsibility for the assaults.

However, Palestinian reporters in the Strip said they believed Hamas militiamen were culpable.

Abu Rahma drew sharp criticism from Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups for his article’s condemnation of Palestinian armed groups that exploit civilians in their war against Israel. He also wrote that some Palestinians have been injured and killed by explosive devices and rockets fired by local groups.

“Who will protect the people from the wrongful acts of the resistance and the government?” Abu Rahma asked in his article. “It is clear that the [Hamas] government is not willing to make the smallest act. It does not open investigations or even hold talks with the resistance groups to ensure that steps are taken to protect the vulnerable people.”

“It is equally clear that the resistance continues to show the same carelessness towards violations committed by the government against the people,” he added. He pointed out that numerous civilians – including children and a man who lost an eye – had been injured by live fire coming from training sites belonging to armed groups in the Strip.

“Explosions also occur frequently in densely populated areas around the Gaza Strip and have their victims,” the human rights activist noted. “Shootings occur by mistake inside homes owned by the resistance. Military training sites function and are located in places very close to neighborhoods and schools.” He added that the “state of carelessness is also causing continued victims of the misfiring of homemade rockets that fall on houses inside the Gaza Strip.”

Abu Rahma also blasted human rights violations committed by the Hamas and Palestinian Authority governments.

“Every day, we see detention and summoning of citizens by the dozens, not for unlawful acts they committed, but mostly for who they are and what they think, or for their mere political affiliation.”

He continued: “We witnessed, with much agony, the outrageous attack upon free expression and peaceful assembly since March 2011. There are reports of hundreds of cases of torture and abuse. The people of any nation have a responsibility to criticize those who lead them. We must look in the mirror before we can see ourselves clearly.”

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