Bonus: Israel is not blamed!
Grim records mark the 10th anniversary of Hamas rule in Gaza — the longest-ever daily electricity and water cuts, 60 percent youth unemployment, and a rising backlog of thousands waiting for a rare chance to exit the blockaded territory.
Unable to offer a remedy, the Islamic militant group has been doubling down on oppression. It has jailed the few who dare complain publicly, including the young organizers of a street protest against power cuts and an author who wrote on Facebook that “life is only pleasant for Hamas leaders.”
A new political program that Hamas hoped would mollify the West and Arab nations instead underscored its ideological rigidity; while softer in tone, the manifesto reaffirms a call to armed struggle and the creation of an Islamic state in historic Palestine, including what is now Israel.
Local writer Abdullah Abu Sharekh landed in jail after writing on Facebook that “people are not steadfast.”
“They cannot do anything because you (Hamas) rule Gaza with iron and fire … you brought Gaza back to the Middle Ages,” he wrote.
After his release Saturday, he wrote that he was deprived of sleep for five days and forced to stand for long periods or sit on small chairs.
A trio of unemployed friends in their 20s from the town of Beit Lahiya said Hamas has harassed them since they mobilized thousands in a rare street protest against chronic power cuts in January. They said they’ve been detained, beaten and repeatedly summoned to security compounds.
Activist Mohammed al-Taluli, 25, said pressure built again several weeks ago as daily rolling power cuts worsened, with four hours of electricity followed by outages of 14 to 18 hours. Al-Taluli said he and his friends received death threats to deter them from protesting, and that it was effective because no one can protect them from Hamas.
Palestinian rights groups say Hamas practices mirror those of its West Bank rivals. Both governments have carried out arbitrary arrests and mistreated detainees, and both monitor social media and civil society to silence dissent.
Hamas leaders often tolerate criticism by well-known figures, but strike back when they detect a threat to their rule, said Samir Zakout of the Gaza rights group al-Mezan.
Over the past decade, Hamas has also executed 28 people, most of them alleged informers, after trials widely condemned as a sham. This includes three men executed last month, after a field tribunal tried them in less than a week.
Ahmed al-Nashar, 63, said he had voted for Hamas hoping “they would do something good in the name of religion,” but has concluded “there is no future here with these people.”
Read the whole thing.
It would be nice if AP mentioned Hamas diverting aid funds towards weapons, tunnel and “martyr” payment programs, but this report is a step in the right direction.