TEL AVIV – A Gaza journalist announced he is quitting his beat as a political journalist after being tortured in a Hamas jail, the Associated Press reported.
Ayman al-Aloul is one of the rare voices willing to criticize the rule of the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But after being thrown in jail for nine days, al-Aloul with left with no choice but to stop writing about politics.
Al-Aloul claims to have been forced to sit uncomfortably in a tiny chair and subjected to beatings. He said the experience made him a “new man” and his reporting will now be limited to sports, food, literature, and fashion.
“I’ve decided not to talk about the general situation anymore,” the journalist who once wrote about the hardships of life under Hamas said. “The experience I went through was very difficult.”
Hamas is cracking down on dissent as people are becoming bolder and using social media to express their criticism.
In fact, it was al-Aloul’s own activity on social media that aroused Hamas’ anger. His posts included images of Gazans rummaging through garbage cans for leftover food, quotes from business owners angry over increased taxes, and blaming Hamas for extended power outages.
According to AP, electricity is available for as little as three hours a day, and gas for heating and cooking is rationed. The power shortage stems from infighting between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which coordinates fuel purchases from Israel.
Al-Aloul also called on Hamas to withdraw from the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt, and allow the PA to manage it instead. Al-Aloul believes that Egypt closed the Rafah crossing because it doesn’t want to deal with Hamas – a view held by many Palestinians.
Earlier this month, Hamas forces arrested al-Aloul and another outspoken critic, Ramzi Herzallah, in their homes in Gaza City. Al-Aloul said he was repeatedly slapped in the face by his interrogators during his detention and sent to a room known as “the bus.” He described it as a room equipped with children’s chairs, where detainees are blindfolded and forced to sit for an entire day.
“They think that my posts on Facebook harm the Gaza government,” he said. “They consider criticizing the government to be criticism of ‘the resistance,’ and they accused me of harming revolutionary unity,” al-Aloul said.
Herzallah, also released Monday, said he too experienced “the bus,” but declined to comment further. Hamas’ Interior Ministry also refused to comment.
Hamas, recognized as a terrorist group by Israel and the US, has a charter that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. The group seized Gaza from the PA in 2007.