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Monday, June 02, 2008

HRW and Islamic Jihad: Two cases of hypocrisy

Recently, Islamic Jihad claimed to have discovered a cell of "collaborators" with Israel. They apparently tortured these alleged Israeli spies and then handed them over to Hamas.

Human Rights Watch described the events this way:
“An armed group like al-Quds Brigades has no legal right to arrest, detain, or interrogate suspects,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division.

A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry told Human Rights Watch that, as of May 18, all three men had been transferred to the custody of the Hamas-controlled Internal Security Force. The spokesman, Ihab al-Ghussein, said Hamas had called on Islamic Jihad to transfer the men after learning of their detention. “They were severely beaten and tortured,” he said.

Relatives of one of the abducted men, Salah Abdullah Awad, 44, a former captain in the General Intelligence Service of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, told Human Rights Watch he showed visible signs of torture when they recently visited him in prison.

“He was unable to stand normally on his feet. Someone was helping him to stand and walk,” Awad’s 24-year-old son Bakr told Human Rights Watch. “He was very tired, with clear signs of torture on his body. There were remains of burns on his feet.”
As condemnations go, this one of Islamic Jihad by HRW is fairly mild. But that didn't stop Islamic Jihad from going ballistic on the organization. Palestine Today reports that Islamic Jihad responded (autotranslated):
The report bears the words aimed to divide the ranks of the Palestinian resistance, and causing a fabricated stir to divert attention from suffering of our people and the siege and aggression (by Israel).

We recall that more than a million and a half Palestinians are subjected to genocide by the unjust embargo, which will continue for the second year and killed 171 martyrs of the sick, children and elderly, neither children nor women nor Sheikhs escaped from this holocaust and genocide, (with Israel) bombing houses in Gaza and targeting their occupants in their homes.

The Islamic Jihad movement irrefutablely explained through an official document issued by the Palestinian internal security apparatus that those involved were not subjected to torture and had been screened by professionals hour they receive between good health, and materials available in possession of documentary photographic movement that they made an explicit confession. [The photos show] they are in good condition, which deny and refute the allegations being subjected to torture.
There is a bit of irony there, as Islamic Jihad released another statement over the weekend condemning the PA for making "political arrests" against their members in Jenin. Apparently, a non-governmental terrorist organization like Islamic Jihad can abduct and detain anyone they feel like and call it an "arrest" but the actual functioning government is not allowed to arrest any members of Islamic Jihad.

There is also a more interesting form of hypocrisy here, being shown by Human Rights Watch. The organization considers Israel to be the "occupying power" in Gaza even though it withdrew from there years ago. But in this report they recognize that there is only one real government in Gaza, namely Hamas:
“As the de facto political authority in Gaza, the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya needs to show it won’t tolerate vigilante abuse," [Stork said.]

Human Rights Watch said that Hamas should either release the men now in their custody or charge them with a recognizable criminal offense and try them in accordance with international fair trial standards. While in detention, the men should be treated fairly and granted access to a lawyer. They should also be speedily brought before a judicial authority with the power to review the legality of their detention and order their release.
If Israel is still legally occupying Gaza, then it is Israel that should be arresting suspects and giving them a fair trial. The legal definition of occupation means to take over the day-to-day functioning of the territory being occupied, including the judicial system. The fact that HRW is calling Hamas the "de facto political authority in Gaza" shows that even HRW realizes that Israel is not a legal occupier of Gaza - except when that organization decides to condemn Israel for various perceived "crimes" in much harsher terms, in which case it is far more convenient to call Israel an occupier responsible for Gaza rather than a legal combatant against Gaza's "de facto" government.