bloody takeover of the Gaza
Strip in 2007, the organization has not
only terrorized Israeli towns but has also
abused and murdered fellow Palestinians.
When Israel began Operation
Cast Lead on December 27,
2008, Hamas leaders
launched a campaign to rid Gaza of
any and all dissidents. Palestinian sources
reported that Hamas has
killed or seriously wounded dozens of
Gazans, predominantly members of Fatah who were accused of “collaborating” with
Israel. Hamas leaders have confirmed the
executions of several dozen citizens, stating
that the collaborators had admitted to
giving intelligence information to Israel’s Shin
Bet. Hamas was also enraged by Fatah’s
supposed joy at the start of Israel's operation.
Executions of collaborators were done in
secret along the Egyptian border. After
the killings, relatives of the victims
were called to claim the bodies.
Palestinian sources report that during the three weeks of the Israeli operation in Gaza, Hamas forces were sent out to catch Fatah members breaking their house arrest. One Fatah man was shot and killed in front of his children for taking one step outside of his house. The Palestinian daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, reported on a Gazan girl whose father was killed by Hamas gunmen. Additionally, Hamas shot and wounded nine other members of her family including several children.
Those alleged Fatah “collaborators” who
were not killed were shot in the legs, mafia
style, so they could not run
to Israeli forces. Hamas also confined rivals
to their houses and beat Fatah members.
Hamas escalated its attacks
on fellow Palestinians after Israel called a unilateral
cease-fire on January 18, 2009. According
to some Fatah sources,
nearly 100 Fatah activists were killed
after the cease-fire was declared. Other Fatah members have claimed that the number of dead is much lower.
Hamas leaders have also arrested hundreds of Fatah members and have set up makeshift interrogation
and torture centers in hospitals and schools
Detainees have reportedly been tortured and
blinded. Other Palestinians have been
shot in the streets and kidnapped.
Hamas leaders denied that
these executions and torture methods took
place but stated that they would be rounding
up Israel “collaborators” in
Gaza for prosecution. Hamas fears that Fatah
will try and return to power in the Gaza
A spokesman for Hamas, Taher al-Nunu claimed that not one Fatah member had been killed but then remarked that perhaps lower level Hamasniks were “settling scores” with Fatah members or family members of other clans and that Hamas would be looking into any attacks.
On February 2, 2009, Fatah officials produced a public plea to international aid organizations which asked them to report truthfully on Hamas's violent attacks. Accompanying this plea was a published list of names of the 181 Fatah members and relatives who had been executed, badly beaten or shot in the legs by Hamas gangs. This was the first list of its kind regarding this intrafada as both Fatah and Hamas officials had been trying to keep the fighting of their members under wraps.
Arab news stations have also reported on the violence. Al Jazeera television interviewed PLO Executive Committee Secretary Yasser Abd Rabbo who accused Hamas members of patrolling Gaza like “packs of animals” in order to find and execute suspected collaborators. They also confirmed that Hamas has organized makeshift prisons and interrogation centers in hospitals and schools around Gaza and that Hamas operatives are indeed stealing food and medical supplies from humanitarian aid trucks and distributing them to fellow members.
According to Hamas sources, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are mimicking Hamas tactics in the West Bank. The sources claim that hundreds of Hamas supporters have been beaten, abused and arrested in the West Bank, particularly in Hebron. Some claim that these alleged abuses are a retaliation to Hamas's mistreatment of Fatah members in Gaza. Another interpretation is that the Palestinian Authority is making arrests of any dissidents of the PA's practices.
Anger has swept over both Hamas and Fatah sympathizers as a result of Israel's operation in Gaza. Fatah maintains that Hamas is to blame for the damage caused by the Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip. Hamas, however, remains bitter towards Fatah because Fatah members did not help to fight off Israeli troops during the three-week operation.
On Thursday, January 22, 2009, both Hamas and Fatah called for political unity in an effort to promote peace for the sake of a future Palestinian state. While supposedly calling for “unity”, Hamas maintained that it wanted sole control in the Gaza Strip.
On January 26, a Palestinian Authority court sentenced another Palestinian “collaborator” to death - its eighth death sentence in the past two months. None of these sentences have been carried out because they are awaiting Mahmoud Abbas's approval which he has yet to give. Hamas leaders are threatening to carry out the executions with or without Abbas's okay.
One day before, however, an alleged collaborator was executed by Hamas. The man, Haidar Ghanem, was a Palestinian reporter who worked for the human rights organization, B'Ttselem. Ghanem was originally sentenced to death by a PA court in 2002 for leaking information to Israel, but his sentence was never carried out. After supposedly giving information to Israel again during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas leaders took it upon themselves to carry out Ghanem's execution, offering him no additional trial.
On January 29, 2009, Hamas was accused of killing a Palestinian teacher, Osama Atallah, who was a Fatah supporter. He was allegedly arrested by Hamas gunmen and was then tortured, strangled and shot with bullets. Hamas forces later denied that they had taken Atallah into custody at all.
During Operation Protective Edge Hamas militants executed multiple Palestinian civilians accused of fraternizing with the enemy and being an informant, giving sensitive information to Israelis that led to air strikes. On August 22 2014, eighteen Palestinian civilians were executed publicly in a park and on streets, accused of divulging information to the Israelis that led to the air strikes that killed senior Hamas commanders Raed Attar, Mohammed Abu Shamalah, and Mohammed Barhoum on August 21. According to Hamas a "revolutionary court" convicted the victims, and "judiciary procedures and measures were carried out against the accused". According to witnesses to the execution the victims were lined up with black hoods on, and then after they were all shot the gathered crowd began to yell "God is great!". The execution was carried out in public to strike fear into the hearts of the Palestinian people and show them what happens when you divulge information to Israel. Five other collaborators were executed in public by Hamas two weeks prior. It is estimated that between 1987-1994 well over 1,000 suspected collaborators were executed in public by Hamas.
The Palestinian Authority condemned these executions the next day, stating that the executions had been done illegally, outside of the Palestinian court system and therefore the charges were not valid. A spokesperson for Abbas's regime stated that "the executions were done in cold blood, and according to Hamas law," and said that the people executed were random.
During the first weeks of the new year 2015, Hamas authorities arrested multiple members of Fatah on unsubstantiated grounds. They stripped the Fatah members down to their underwear and forced them to stand outside in the cold Palestinian Winter for hours, all while intensely beating them with hoses and sticks. The Fatah officials subjected to this treatment included Nahru al-Haddad, Ziad Matar, Eyad Hils, Raed Ayyad, Hamdan al-Umsi, Nayef Khwaiter, Sa'di Hils, Mohamed al-Waheidi, Eyad Ramadan, Lutfi Mahani and Radwan al-Shantaf. In addition to cracking down on Fatah, during January 2015 Palestinian Authority forces arrested more than 25 University students for posting negative statements about Hamas and other groups on social media.
Amnesty International released a report on May 26, 2015, detailing how during Operation Protective Edge Hamas tortured, extorted, and killed many Palestinians. The report claimed that Hamas members executed at least 23 Palestinian civilians during the conflict, and used the cover of the conflict between Israel and Hamas to exact revenge on their rival Palestinian factions including Fatah. Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program director Phillip Luther stated in an interview that Hamas used the “chaos of the conflict” to carry out war crimes and “ruthlessly settle scores” with Fatah. To read the full text of the report, entitled “Strangling necks: Abductions, Torture, and Summary Killings of Palestinians by Hamas Forces During the 2014 Gaza/Israel Conflict,” click here.
Fatah has also played the
role of persecuter in the Gaza Strip as well
as in the West Bank. Various intrafadas have claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians both militant and civilian.
During the intrafada in 2007 - the battles between Hamas and Fatah to acquire power in Gaza - 163 Palestinians were killed. Of this number, 41 were civilians and two were children who found themselves in the line of fire.
This was also not the first
case of Palestinian in-fighting. By the end
of the first
intifada, which began in December 1987,
the number of Palestinians murdered by their
fellow Palestinians exceeded the number of
Palestinians who died in clashes with Israeli
Arafat's PLO officially executed 118 Palestinians
who were thought to be collaborating with Israel.
By the end of the first
intifada, nearly 1,000 Palestinians had
died by the hand of their own people.
Hamas’s official takeover
of the Gaza Strip in 2007 did not stop the
internecine battles. In July of 2008, a senior
leader of Hamas, Bilal Abu Takiyeh, killed
his own brother because he belonged to Fatah.
Hamas continued to prosecute and imprison
or execute Fatah members on grounds of treason.
Individual operatives often did not
wait for a trial and carried out summary
Fatah and Hamas have in the past set off bombs in each other’s cars and houses and made sweeping arrests in both Gaza and the Abbas-run West Bank. Armed forces have kidnapped members from both sides. They have accused each other of “colluding” with
Israel to gain political power. They have
shot each other in the streets of Gaza’s
city center and pushed each other from rooftops
of high rise buildings.
The Palestinian groups behave
much like mafia families and engage in ruthless
warfare for dominance. The recent bloodletting
among the “families” in Gaza
is likely only to escalate the mob war.