Hamas demolishes homes, beats residents in Rafah

Citizens decry police brutality, government unfairness in their eviction

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

A new housing project in Rafah, funded by UNRWA (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)
A new housing project in Rafah, funded by UNRWA (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip recently violently evicted residents and demolished homes it claims were illegally constructed on government land in the city of Rafah, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reported Monday.

According to the report, on March 21 a number of government bulldozers razed the makeshift homes, located in the southern Gaza Strip. Security officers on the scene beat the evicted residents and prevented media from covering the event. Mobile phones were confiscated from citizens who privately filmed the demolition and the photos deleted before being returned to their owners.

One resident who tried to resist his eviction told Al-Arabiya that the women’s police brutally beat his wife and mother before forcing them out of the home and destroying it. The man said he had documents proving his ownership of the land.

Ibrahim Radwan, head of Gaza’s Land Authority, told the station that residents were warned by the government before their homes were demolished, and would be compensated if they had been squatting on the land since before October 2010. He added that the housing ministry was considering building them alternative housing projects.

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