TEL AVIV — A Hamas military court in the Gaza Strip has sentenced a local singer to five years in prison after he performed songs critical of Hamas and the authorities in the enclave.
The Palestinian singer, Adel al-Mashwakhi, is known for his songs and stand-up comedy routines against the authorities, including the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas and the leadership of Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Al-Mashwakhi is a resident of the Gaza Strip and is officially employed by the Palestinian police. He managed to leave the strip in recent months to receive medical care in Egypt and decided not to return to Gaza, resulting in his sentencing in absentia. The court ruled that he would serve five years in prison and be expelled from the police for a song that angered Hamas.
In a conversation with Palestinian media, al-Mashwakhi said that he wasn’t surprised by the sentence. He asserted that the sentence was political in nature “covered over by arguments of security.” He added that it was no different from the 13 previous sentences against him, all of which were the result of the content of his performances.
Al-Mashwakhi said that his brother and other family members were present at the sentencing and he confirmed that he doesn’t currently reside in the Gaza Strip. He noted that the background for his sentencing was political songs “that criticize Hamas and the Palestinian reality in the Gaza Strip.”
According to al-Mashwakhi, he doesn’t intend to stop his performances despite the sentence and will continue to release political songs and critical stand-up routines.
In an effort to defy Hamas and the prison sentence, al-Mashwakhi released a new song on Tuesday called “Missile against Hamas and against its Leadership.” In the song “May Allah Take You, Hamas,” al-Mashwakhi returned to criticizing life in the shadow of the Hamas movement and the corruption of its leadership.
The song accuses Hamas of humiliating the residents of the Gaza Strip. “May Allah take you, Hamas, you’ve humiliated the people. You said change and reform and we’ve seen nothing. May Allah take you Hamas. Allah will punish you. Haniyeh, may Allah curse you. Sinyar (Hamas’ new leader in the Gaza Strip) nu nu. You brought us heart attacks.” The song goes on to criticize Hamas and its leadership.
Al-Mashwakhi was previously a member of the Hamas movement but left over three years ago.