27 May 2015

Hamas ‘tortured and killed Palestinian civilians’ – Amnesty

Hamas committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the 2014 war with Israel, according to Amnesty International.

An Amnesty report says Hamas, which controls Gaza, targeted those who were alleged to have collaborated with Israel.

“Hamas forces carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel and others during Israel’s military offensive against Gaza,” the human rights group says.

But Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the report was unfair, unprofessional and not credible, adding: “The report is dedicated against Palestinian resistance and the Hamas movement … it deliberately exaggerated its descriptions without listening to all sides and without making an effort to check the truthfulness of details and information.”

During the 50-day conflict, 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 67 Israelis, most of them soldiers, were killed. Amnesty also accuses Israel of war crimes.

Israel says it went to war to prevent Hamas from firing rockets from Gaza. Today, Israeli fighter jets carried out air strikes in Gaza, just hours after a rocket was fired at southern Israel. Israel said it had targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad sites.

‘Horrific abuses’

In its report, Amnesty highlights a number of cases in which it says Palestinians were tortured and killed, with “at least 23 people” subjected to summary executions.

It says: “The de facto Hamas administration granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuses, including against people in its custody. These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.

“To date, no-one has been held to account for committing these unlawful killings and other abuses, either by the Hamas de facto administration that continues to control Gaza and its security and judicial institutions, or by the Palestinian ‘national consensus’ government that has had nominal authority over Gaza since June 2014.

“Testimonies indicate that victims of torture were beaten with truncheons, gun butts, hoses, wire, and fists; some were also burnt with fire, hot metal or acid.”

Gaza 2014 (Reuters)

Amnesty says Israel also committed war crimes and “other grave violations of international law”, as well as causing “massive destruction to civilian infrastructure”.

It adds: “The extent of the casualties and destruction in Gaza wrought by Israeli forces far exceeded those caused by Palestinian attacks on Israel, reflecting Israel’s far greater firepower, among other factors.”


Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups were also guilty of war crimes, it says, “by firing thousands of indiscriminate rockets and other projectiles into southern Israel”.

The Palestinians have joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) since the end of the war, a move opposed by Israel, and the ICC is examining possible war crimes in the conflict. But joining the court also exposes Palestinians to possible prosecution if a case is opened.