Hamas on Wednesday denied the summary execution of some two dozen residents of Gaza during Operation Protective Edge last summer, calling an Amnesty International report accusing the Islamic movement of human rights abuses “politicized” and “unprofessional.”
In a report Tuesday, Amnesty International accused Hamas of the extrajudicial killing of at least 23 civilians accused of collaborating with Israel, and the abduction and torture of others, during the 50-day war last July and August.
According to the report, Hamas used abandoned sections of Gaza’s main hospital, Shifa, “to detain, interrogate, torture and otherwise ill-treat suspects, even as other parts of the hospital continued to function as a medical center.”
On August 22, 2014, Hamas publicly executed six men, at least one of whom was never charged in court. Other local suspects died in jail after being subjected to torture.
On Wednesday, Hamas maintained that the Gazans killed during the summer conflict were murdered by residents seeking revenge, rather than Hamas agents. In an official statement, it said the Amnesty report was “politicized, lacking in professional standards, and reliant on baseless claims.”
It was the “occupation,” argued Hamas, which was to blame for the death of the Gaza civilians, who were recruited as collaborators “to kill and sabotage the Palestinian people.”
Hamas did not deny the men’s deaths, but provided an alternative explanation for it. Israel had bombarded prisons in the Gaza Strip during the war, causing a number of suspected collaborators to escape from jail. “Dozens of Palestinians fell victim to the [Israeli] bombardment, including those accused of collaborating with the occupation,” the statement read.
But it was not the Israeli shelling that killed the suspected collaborators, Hamas admitted, but rather furious civilians seeking revenge.
“The Palestinian society is tribal in nature, and the issue of revenge — especially against collaborators — is socially ingrained,” the statement continued. “The escape from prison was an opportunity for some relatives of victims to take revenge on these collaborators.”
Hamas’s Ministry of Interior and General Prosecution are currently investigating the executions, it claimed, addressing Amnesty’s report that they were carried out “with impunity.”
Yahya Moussa, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the report was geared at “exonerating Israel and ignoring the crimes it perpetrated against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
“The circumstances of war are imposed by the field,” Moussa told Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera. “Hamas is a national liberation movement which does not perpetrate any extrajudicial crimes. [Amnesty] should conduct objective and comprehensive investigations. Instead, Israel is acquitted from its crimes; and its killing of women and children is covered up.”