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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hamas backs down from shutting down human rights org

From Ma'an:
The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) said on Thursday that Hamas-allied security forces briefly ordered their office in Gaza to close, before government officials denied there had been such an order.

Sources in the organization in the West Bank city of Ramallah told Ma’an that three members of the security forces entered the office and ordered everyone, including director Jamal Sarhan, to leave.

Later, Salah Abed Al-Ati, the director of ICHR’s operation in Gaza City and northern Gaza, said that a delegation of government officials visited the office to explain that there had never been a decision to shut down the organization.

The delegation included Comptroller-General Hassan As-Sayfi and Interior Ministry Spokesperson Ihab Al-Ghusein. They told ICHR that the organization could continue working "with a few minor reservations" on the part of the authorities.

ICHR sources said that the apparent initial decision to close the office came from Fathi Hammad, the minister of the interior in the Gaza administration. The security officers who had first appeared presented warrants from the Ministry of the Interior and the General Secretariat of the Gaza-based cabinet.
(Palestine Press Agency thought it was the PICCR that was closed, which I am pretty sure is a different organization.)

Hamas seems to have no compunction about throwing its weight around.

By the way, this article highlights Ma'an's methods of criticizing Hamas since the coup: it refuses to print any article that makes Hamas look bad, until it can find a different reason to mention the facts that it is reluctant to report. In this case, it waits until Hamas backtracks on closing down a HR organization before reporting that the action happened to begin with.