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EU ‘appalled’ by alleged killing of 2 Gazans by Hamas security forces

Hassan Abu Zayed and Imad al-Tawil slain during or following altercations with Hamas security forces, leading Palestinian rights groups to demand independent investigations

Hamas security officers stand guard on the main road of the Jebaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip, October 30, 2020. (Adel Hana/AP)
Hamas security officers stand guard on the main road of the Jebaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip, October 30, 2020. (Adel Hana/AP)

The European Union said on Tuesday that it was “appalled” by the deaths of two Gaza residents during or immediately following altercations with Hamas security forces, as human rights groups call for independent investigations of both deaths.

Hassan Abu Zayed, a 27-year-old resident of Gaza City, was driving on Friday night when he was shot and killed by Hamas security forces, allegedly as he sped through a checkpoint.

According to the Hamas Interior Ministry, security forces spotted a car speeding toward them as they manned the checkpoint in Gaza City’s eastern al-Tuffah neighborhood. The driver ignored calls to stop, Interior Ministry spokesperson Iyad Bozm said.

“Two shots were fired at the vehicle, which did not stop and sought to flee. It later became clear that one of the passengers had been injured. He was taken to a hospital where he passed away from his wounds,” al-Bozm said.

But the Independent Commission for Human Rights, who brought in a physician to attend Abu Zayed’s autopsy, said it had found unexplained discrepancies between the autopsy and the ministry’s account.

Imad Tawil, a 27-year-old resident of Deir al-Balah, was allegedly beaten by Hamas police early on Sunday during a raid by officers in the city’s al-Nuseirat Refugee Camp. A half hour later, Tawil began to complain of chest pains before collapsing. Although he was rushed to a nearby hospital, he later died, according to the Independent Commission for Human Rights.

The European Union, along with Palestinian human rights groups, have called for independent investigations of both incidents.

“A full, independent & transparent investigation should be conducted immediately so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice,” the EU’s envoy to the Palestinians tweeted.

Protests rocked the West Bank last month over the death of opposition figure Nizar Banat while in the custody of the Palestinian Authority’s security services.

The demonstrations, which saw thousands take to the streets in Hebron and Ramallah, were brutally suppressed by Palestinian officers. Human rights groups have charged that some protesters were beaten during the dispersal. Others had their phones and cameras smashed or stolen in an attempt to prevent them from documenting the violence.

In contrast, Gaza has remained relatively quiet since the deaths of the two men, although their funeral processions saw hundreds gather to mourn in the neighborhoods in which they lived, according to local media.

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