Hamas, the radical Islamist entity which rules the Gaza Strip, carried out mass beatings and arrests to shut down a protest on Wednesday.
Over 400 Gazans took to the streets of Shejaiya to express their discontent, but they were quickly shut down after plainclothes Hamas police officers ran into the crowd and carried out a number of beatings, AFP reports.
Shejaiya, a neighborhood in northeast Gaza, was heavily hit by Israeli forces in a war between the Jewish state and Hamas in the summer of 2014. Much of Shejaiya was left in ruins after Hamas conducted missile launches into Israel from inside the city. The terror group frequently used women and children as human shields to carry out the indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel’s civilian population centers.
After the beatings, the Hamas authorities arrested at least seven individuals who participated in the protest, a witness told AFP.
The Hamas Interior Ministry claimed that police had to step in “to protect the lives of those participating, after which calm prevailed.”
Hamas has a long track record of violently shutting down protests in Gaza and sometimes takes extreme action to discourage public dissent. In July 2014, 20 Gazans who took part in anti-war protests were immediately rounded up and shot dead by Hamas police, according Israel’s Channel 10 news.
The Palestinian Islamist group seized authority over Gaza in 2007 after Israel unilaterally withdrew from the territory in exchange for hopes for peace with the Palestinians.
Hamas’s charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews. In March 2014, its chairman, Khaled Mashaal, reaffirmed the group’s genocidal principles. Mashaal said that one’s greatest achievement in life is to die a martyr, and that Palestinians should always be seeking Israel’s destruction.