GENEVA, Jan. 17 - The stabbing in Gaza of a Palestinian rights activist after he exposed Hamas' contempt for its own people by using them as human shields, and after he criticized the radical Islamic group for torture, abuse and trampling free speech, should be strongly condemned by the United Nations—both as an attack on the victim’s human rights, and on the idea of freedom of expression.
Masked attackers on Friday stabbed Mahmud Abu Rahma multiple times in the back, leg and shoulders, it was revealed today.
This latest attack on a rights activist underscores Gaza's brutally enforced intolerance for any discourse other the anti-Israel mantras of Hamas, which rules the area with an iron fist.
The attack only proves the simple truth of the victim's words.
Abu Rahma's crime was publishing an article in the Palestinian press that dared to criticize Hamas' "outrageous attack upon free expression and peaceful assembly" over the past year, and the "hundreds of cases of torture and abuse."
Abu Rahma also dared to publish basic facts about Gaza that completely contradict the Hamas narrative, and that of the UN's Goldstone Report, which repeatedly found "no evidence" that Hamas used civilians as human shields.
What is remarkable is that with all of the massive UN resources ostensibly dedicated to protecting Palestinians—the 16-member Division for Palestinian Rights, the 20-odd resolutions on Palestinians last year by the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council's special agenda item on Palestinians at every session, resolutions on Palestinians by UNESCO, the WHO and numerous other agencies, the full-time post of "Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Palestine" held by Richard Falk—still, with all that and more, the world body somehow managed to turn a blind eye to the massive violations of Palestinian rights described by Abu Rahma (click here for source):
• Although Abu Rahma considers Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations to be “resistance groups,” he said they "show little or no care for people's life and well being.”If the UN's colossal pro-Palestinian infrastructure would have truly done its job and reported the above simple facts about Hamas perfidy to the world's attention, it is fair to ask whether Abu Rahma would have been assaulted for writing his article.
• “Military training sites function and are located in places very close to neighborhoods and/or schools, from where acts of resistance, including firing rockets, also occur.” As a result, “The population of these locations are inevitably vulnerable to Israeli attacks.”
• “Numerous people were injured from live fire coming from resistance groups training sites; including children and at least one man who lost his eye.”
• “There is a training site in the town of Beit Lahiya that threatens people every day, including a girl who was injured inside her school when an explosion occurred in this site on Sep. 20 2011.”
• “Explosions also occur frequently in densely-populated areas around Gaza, and have their victims, many of whom are children.”
• A man in the al-Nasser neighborhood in Gaza city, whose house is near a military training site, “complained to the resistance members many times. He explained the family’s fear for their life and house. But he was told the family could move out of the area, even if they had no resources to move. He died the way he feared most: tragically.”
• “The state of carelessness from the part of resistance is also causing continued victims of the misfiring of home-made rockets that fall on houses inside Gaza. Many of the victims are children and all of them are civilians who happen to be in their homes.”
• “There are more victims of shootings from, or explosions in, training sites. Many children are killed or maimed when explosive devices left in the streets or farms explode in their hands. And there is the young man who was shot in the legs for daring to publicly criticize a local resistance leader.”
The incident raises serious questions about the ability of the Palestinians to create a democratic state where people feel free to question their government without fear of being seriously injured or killed for doing so.
The attack should be immediately denounced by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, by Irina Bokova, the director general of UNESCO, the world agency mandated to uphold press freedom, and by Frank La Rue, the UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.
The attack is also serious enough for its implications that even the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, should personally condemn it.
Our call for UNESCO to act comes as UN Watch heads a campaign comprising 55 parliamentarians, religious groups and prominent human rights activists that is urging the organization’s executive board to reverse its November decision to place Syria on a pair of committees, one of them dealing with human rights.Britain recently informed UN Watch that it has agreed to challenge Syria's membership, and news reports say the U.S. is playing a leading role in the effort, to be decided at UNESCO's upcoming March session.