Aug 16, 2022
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Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh tweeted on Sunday that Hamas arrested 20-year-old Mustafa Asfour, from Khan Yunis, after he criticized Hamas for storing weapons in residential areas in the Gaza Strip.

Explosions in houses

Critics of Hamas from its own citizens increased two weeks ago when an explosion in a house used to store weapons in a residential area in the center of Gaza City killed one and injured 14 others, including six children.

The IDF released a statement clarifying that it had not conducted any activity in the area. 

“Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza views the explosion incident with grave seriousness, as there have been repeated incidents of internal explosions in houses in overcrowded residential neighborhoods for various reasons in the past, which resulted in the killing of a number of civilians and the destruction of homes and public and private properties,” a statement from the humanitarian NGO read. “Accordingly, Al-Mezan reiterates its call for a comprehensive and serious investigation into this incident and other similar events, to publish the results of the investigation publicly, and to take the necessary measures to ensure that it does not recur in order to preserve the lives and property of citizens.”

Palestinian writer Fadel Al-Manasfeh said it was clear that Hamas chooses popular markets as a safe place for its ammunition warehouses because it knows that Israel does not target such places. He also pointed out that a similar explosion took place in an open market in the Nuseirat refugee camp last year, killing more than 10 Palestinians and injuring dozens of others.

Hamas using human shields

Israel conducted an investigation after the 2014 Protective Edge incursion into Gaza and determined that Hamas positions its rocket launching sites, weapons caches, and command centers in areas surrounded by civilian buildings, and stores explosives and weapons in and around schools, mosques, residential homes and other civilian infrastructures. Hamas systematically exploits Palestinian civilians as human shields for military targets in Gaza. 

Arresting Palestinian critics and media

Both Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah routinely jail critics. In June, Nizar Banat, a critic of the Palestinian Authority, died after being beaten and arrested by Palestinian security forces in his house in Hebron. Palestinian activist Rami Aman reported in April that he endured months of torture at the hands of Hamas after contacting Israeli left-wing “peace” activists. Hajar Harb, a Gazan journalist, was prosecuted by Hamas after he published an expose revealing that the terrorist organization arranged illegal medical transfers out of the Gaza Strip for people who did not need treatment.  

According to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, a Ramallah-based NGO, in 2018 alone the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank were responsible for 77 attacks on media freedom during the year. These included arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment during interrogation, confiscation of equipment, physical assaults and bans on reporting. The Hamas authorities in Gaza were responsible for 37 such attacks.