Three weeks ago, Hamas eliminated one of their own for “behavioral and moral excesses.” At the time, I took a stab at guessing what exactly the dead Hamashole had done. One of my guesses has perhaps proven correct: HamasexualityTM
Mahmoud Ishtiwi had all the trappings of a telenovela: sex, torture and embezzlement in Gaza’s most venerated and secretive institution, the armed wing of Hamas.
Mr. Ishtiwi, 34, was a commander from a storied family of Hamas loyalists who, during the 2014 war with Israel, was responsible for 1,000 fighters and a network of attack tunnels. Last month, his former comrades executed him with three bullets to the chest.
Adding a layer of scandal to the story, he was accused of moral turpitude, by which Hamas meant homosexuality. And there were whispers that he had carved the word “zulum” — wronged — into his body in a desperate kind of last testament.
His death has become the talk of the town in the conservative quarters of Gaza, the Palestinian coastal territory, endlessly discussed in living rooms, at checkpoints and in cabs. But to astute Gaza observers, this was more substantive than a soap opera.
Mr. Ishtiwi, who is survived by two wives and three children, was not the first member of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, to be killed by his own. What was unprecedented was the way his relatives spoke out publicly about it.
It was five months after that deadly battle subsided, on Jan. 21, 2015, that Mr. Ishtiwi was summoned to an interrogation by Qassam military intelligence officials. Officers doing a kind of after-action investigation of the war suspected that he had diverted money allocated to his unit for weapons. “Do you have money?” he was asked, according to relatives. “How do you spend it?”
He admitted that he had kept money meant for the brigades, and thus, said his sister Buthaina, 27, “began the telenovela of torture.”
The Hamas official said Mr. Ishtiwi’s quick confession had aroused suspicion that he was hiding something bigger.
A dragnet investigation began, drawing in Mr. Ishtiwi’s soldiers. Qassam officials found a man who claimed he had had sex with Mr. Ishtiwi and provided dates and locations. They concluded that the missing money had been used either to pay for sex or to keep the man quiet. If Israeli intelligence officials knew Mr. Ishtiwi was gay, the officials surmised, perhaps he had given them information in exchange for keeping a secret that, if uncovered, would have made him an outcast in his society.
The article goes on to detail the torture and abuse the terrorist endured at the hands of his fellow terrorists.
Whether or not Ishtiwi was gay is not the point. He was tortured and murdered because of it. And while I do not grieve for any dead terrorist, I will be interested to see if groups like Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, and other Israel-hating LGBT groups will issue a statement condemning Hamas.
Heck, I’d be interested to see whether other human rights organizations and the UN – including UNRWA (headed by Chris Gunness, living as a gay man in Tel Aviv) – will utter anything.
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