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Occupied Palestinian Territories: Groups Should Treat Captives Humanely

Fatah, Hamas Responsible for Civilians in Their Custody

The two rival Palestinian political factions, Fatah and Hamas, should treat civilians in their custody humanely, and ensure that no further summary executions take place, Human Rights Watch said today.

In the Gaza Strip over the past week fighters linked to Hamas and Fatah have taken people from the other party captive and executed them, often in a public and degrading manner. According to news reports, both groups continue to round up people linked to the rival faction and now hold them in both Gaza and the West Bank.

“Killing people who are in your custody and under your control, no matter what the circumstances, constitutes an extremely grave offense – in fact, a war crime,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. “This is a fundamental humanitarian principle that applies to fighters regardless of whether they are in a regular army or not.”

On Thursday evening, armed men reportedly linked with Hamas shot and captured Samih al-Madhun, a leader of the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, when he tried to shoot his way past a Hamas checkpoint in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the Central Gaza Strip. According to information provided to Human Rights Watch, Al-Aqsa television, a Hamas-controlled network, aired footage of the wounded al-Madhun being dragged through the streets and beaten by bystanders before a gunman emptied the magazine of his weapon into him, killing him. Human Rights Watch also received a report of an execution-style killing on Friday in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis.

In Nablus, a large city in the northern West Bank, on Thursday night gunmen killed Hamas supporter Anis al-Sallus. Al-Aqsa Brigades subsequently announced on television that they had killed al-Sallus in revenge for the Hamas killings in Gaza. On Friday, Al-Aqsa Brigades in Ramallah reportedly issued a statement threatening to harm Hamas members in the West Bank in reprisal for further killings of Fatah members in Gaza.

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