Human Rights

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Hamas Widens Civil Liberties Crackdown to Include Activists, Journalists, Political Opponents

Hamas is scrambling to prevent widening domestic unrest from escalating into a genuine threat to the Palestinian terror group’s control over the Gaza Strip. Al-Monitor this weekend surveyed an array of crackdowns initiated by Hamas officials, from the targeting of activists who support Hamas’s rival Fatah to the harassment of anti-government Tamarod protesters.

Journalists – who have for years been subject to institutionalized harassment – had already had enough last month. In late summer Hamas shuttered the offices of Ma’an and Al Arabiya. The result was open protests:

Head of the journalists syndicate Abdul-Nasser Najjar addressed the protesters and expressed astonishment over the ongoing assaults against journalists in Gaza.

“We were surprised as Hamas continued with assaults against Palestinian media organizations, shutting down offices of Ma’an News Network and some other media offices. This is part of an ongoing practice,” Najjar said. He highlighted that “since Hamas staged its coup in Gaza, the main three Palestinian daily newspapers were banned in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas’s less than full commitment to civil liberties has also seen the Islamist group pressure Christians to convert, attempt to dictate personal grooming habits, and discriminate against women.

Journalists have at times expressed consternation that a group with Hamas’s policies can – and indeed has – become a cause celebre for some self-described progressives aligned against Israel.

[Photo: ViralMedia24 / YouTube]