Since Hamas’ mid June 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has welcomed the positive gestures articulated by Hamas officials that it would respect fundamental rights and freedoms.
Al Mezan also commended the abolition of appearance and use of small arms in the streets and social events, which has had a positive effect on the security conditions in the Strip.
At the same time, Al Mezan has frequently stressed that Hamas is obligated to ensure full respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights in Gaza now that it has extended its de facto authority over the Strip.
Those obligations accompany effective control by an authority over a population, external to its legal or political status.
This opinion does not mean that other actors, such as Israel and the international community, do not bear obligations vis-à-vis human rights of Gaza's population.
After a month of Hamas' control of Gaza, Al Mezan has nevertheless documented serious violations of human rights.
Many were conveyed by the Center to Hamas' officials in meetings with them.
Al Mezan has publicly reported these meetings and their aim: to prevent violations of rights and restrictions on freedoms through positive dialogue.
In these meetings, Hamas officials showed openness and understanding of the Center's concerns.
Al Mezan's efforts have been hindered by the frequent refusal of victims and eyewitnesses to give information about the conditions in which violations took place.
Victims said they were afraid to give any information about their exposure to illegal detention, torture and degrading treatment.
According to documented information and evidences available to the Center, Gaza has seen increasing rates of violations of human rights and illegal conduct.
Some of those are: 1.
Acts of kidnapping of citizens.
Arrests and interrogations are executed without observance of the due process and in violation of the rights of citizens under custody.
This represents a breach of Articles (10, 11 and 12) of the Palestinian Basic Law, and Articles (1, 2, 19, 20, 21, 23, 29, 34, 54, 55, 105, 107, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, and 125) of the Palestinian Penal Law.
Frequent violent searches of homes in a way that breaches Article (17) of the Palestinian Basic Law and Articles (39, 40, 41, 43, 48, 50 and 51) of the Palestinian Penal Procedures Law.
Exerting physical pressure (i.
torture) against individuals under the custody of Hamas' Executive Force and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in eliciting information during interrogation.
This conduct represents a serious violation of every human being's well established right to freedom from torture and other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment.
It is also contrary to the prohibitions included in Article (13) of the Palestinian Basic law.
The violation of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, which is represented, among other things, by the assault against a peaceful demonstration organized by several PLO factions in the town of Khan Younis on 12 July 2007.
Members of the Executive Force and/or Al Qassam Brigades fired in the air and violently arrested many demonstrators to disperse them.
This conduct is in breach of Article (21) of ICCPR, Article (26) of the Palestinian Basic Law, and Article (2) of the Palestinian Public Assembly Law No.
12 of the Year 1998.
The violation of the freedom to form and join political parties, non-governmental organizations, syndicates and charities by taking over of the offices of many of them and prohibiting their staffs from returning to their activity.
These conducts contravene Article (26) of the Palestinian Basic Law and Article (1) of the Palestinian Charitable Associations and Public Societies No.
1 of the Year 2000.
As such, Al Mezan Center reasserts that the key to eliminating the state of insecurity and promoting freedoms is achievable only by ensuring respect for the rule of the law, and not by ignoring its provisions.
Moreover, the Center reemphasizes that the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is essentially political.
Therefore, the key to resolve this conflict is by resorting to constructive dialogue; more pressing now than ever before under the dangerous conditions lived by the Palestinian people, specifically acts of aggression, economic siege, and sanctions imposed by Israel.
In this context, Al Mezan reiterates its calls upon the international community to act towards ending Israel's occupations and siege and their flagrant violations of Palestinians' human rights.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the unjustifiable violations of human rights by Palestinian actors in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Center also calls on Hamas to show due respect for the law by monitoring acts of its members and ensuring their adherence to it.
The Center particularly calls on Hamas to end its control of the NGO and syndicate offices, ensure their safe return to normal work, and surrender all the belongings its members had confiscated from them.
Additionally, The Center calls Hamas to ensure that its members observe due process in all acts of apprehension, arrest and interrogation.
Those who are arrested must be subjected to all of the protections accorded them under the law.