Hamas denies accusations by Human Rights Watch about killing political opponents

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Nicosia, Apr 22 (ANI): Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum has dismissed accusations made by New York based Human Rights Watch against the Hamas-run de facto government that gunmen with suspected links to Hamas security forces killed at least 32 Palestinians and wounded dozens in attacks on political opponents and alleged informers during and after Israel's recent war in Gaza Strip.

Human Rights Watch on Monday urged Gaza's Hamas rulers to halt what it described as a pattern of arbitrary arrests, torture and summary executions by the movement.

Speaking at a press conference in Gaza City, Barhoum dismissed the report as "hasty and incomplete", saying that it neglected to mention that the "Israeli occupation was real reason for the chaos in Gaza during the war".

The report, he said, was meant to defame Hamas and the de facto government, which tried to maintain security and order during Israel's military offensive.

Barhoum pointed out that "the suspected collaborators who fled Gaza's central prison after it was destroyed in Israeli bombing raids in December, were killed by relatives of those they harmed, but not by the security forces."

Human Rights Watch portrayed the attacks as the worst outbreak of internal violence since Hamas fighters violently seized control of Gaza in June 2007 and expelled rivals in the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who now controls only the West Bank.

Responding, the Human Rights Watch stressed that the "systematic nature of many of the executions and attacks and the fact that killings have continued after the Israeli offensive undercut Hamas' assertions."

Eighteen Palestinians were killed by Hamas during the three-week war, which ended on January 18, and 14 others were killed afterward, the report said.

In addition, 49 Gazans were shot in the legs by masked gunmen between December 28 and January 31, and 73 had their arms or legs broken, the report said, citing a rights group linked to Abbas.

Human Rights Watch said repressive measures are also on the rise in the Abbas-controlled West Bank. (ANI)

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