It is little wonder that civilians in Gaza become victims. This also speaks to the vicious nature of Hamas, a true terrorist group.
Armed Hamas Men Return To The Streets Of Gaza
By David Bedein, Middle East Correspondent
Published: Friday, January 23, 2009
Sderot, Israel " Social workers from humanitarian organizations that have been working in Gaza over the past few says report Hamas armed men have returned to the streets, this time in uniform.
According to the reports, they are trying reassert their authority over the residents of Gaza anew. During the recent fighting, Hamas militants disguised themselves as regular civilians during fights with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
According to local residents, the Hamas security forces have also turned their guns on people associated with Fatah, the rival Palestinian faction.
“They attack Fatah people from time to time, shoot them in the legs because of all sorts of situations. We don’t know exactly what their reasons are. We saw a few masked men grab somebody, take him aside and exchange a few words with him. Then they shot him in the legs, just because he’s a Fatah supporter or because he said something bad about Hamas,” according to one social work source, who explained that, “They’re trying to impose a reign of terror. They’re trying to tell everyone: we’re here and we’re in control and nobody better try to undermine our control over the Gaza Strip. Mainly, you see them in large numbers in the streets in order to say to people, ‘we’re here and there’s security and everything.’ They were hurt, but not enough for them to lose control.”
Another social worker said life was slowly returning to normal.
“One third of the stores and bakeries are open, since most of the bakeries operate on cooking gas, and there’s a shortage of cooking gas in Gaza. The water infrastructure was severely damaged and teams in Gaza are working day and night to try to repair the damage,” the source said. “In the northern parts, where electricity is supplied by Israel, the situation is reasonable, as it is in the south, where Egypt is responsible for the supply. In central Gaza, the problem is worse. The Gaza Electric Corporation is having a hard time repairing the extensive damage that was caused.”
Reports have reached Ramallah on the West Bank about humanitarian aid shipments that have been hijacked, attacks that were carried out on United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) officials as they were distributing food and medicine. Hamas has reportedly has sold the stolen goods to residents.
A high-ranking Palestinian Authority (PA) minister told the Voice of Israel Radio that Hamas has resumed committing the crimes that it used to commit before the warfare in Gaza.
“They seized control of a number of UNRWA trucks with aid that had arrived from Jordan. They dealt violently with the UNRWA officials and, in general, try to hijack all the aid that makes its way to the Gaza Strip,” the PA minister said. “That’s why they tried to reach an arrangement with UNRWA in which all of the aid for the residents would go to UNRWA, since it has the most extensive infrastructure and the largest warehouses, so that it would provide for the needs of all the residents and not only the refugees who are in centralized locations, but everywhere in the Gaza Strip.”
The Palestinian minister also addressed the incidents of Hamas shooting people associated with Fatah, and said the statements made by the leaders thus far notwithstanding, reconciliation between the Palestinian factions was not near at hand.
“Because of those incidents we don’t know and aren’t sure whether they’re inclined to a unity of that kind or not,” the minister said.
IDF Forbids Publishing Battalion Commanders’ Names
In a precedent-setting step, the IDF decided to forbid publicizing the names of the battalion commanders who fought in the Gaza Strip and who were interviewed yesterday by the media. The reason for this decision is the fear that they might be prosecuted for war crimes that they allegedly committed in the course of the operation in Gaza.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office allowed all the media outlets to interview battalion commanders from the various brigades that fought in the three weeks of the incursion into Gaza.
Taking an unusual decision, just a few minutes before airtime on TV and before the reports were filed for the newspapers, new instructions were handed down instructing the media to blur the faces and to remove all reference to the names of the various battalion commanders who were interviewed.
The Israel Military Censor’s Office further instructed the media not to provide any additional information about the battalion commanders that might help identify them.
The decision was made following consultations with the IDF Judge Advocate General, due to a general concern that anything the battalion commanders might say could be used against them if and when suits are filed against them to the International Court of Justice.
One military official said yesterday that the publication of their identities could also place the officers’ lives at risk. On Monday, IDF officers were given a travel advisory of sorts prior to any trip overseas, lest they be arrested for alleged war crimes.
David Bedein can be reached at [email protected]