Israel withdrew both its military and civilians from the Gaza Strip in 2005
. It has absolutely no territorial claims on the area. Israel does not see the Palestinian population, which is being held hostage by Hamas and other terror organizations, as its enemy. Its enemy is Hamas and the other terror organizations.Hamas seized power of the Gaza Strip in 2006
. For a second, when this happened, the world believed that with power would come responsibility: that Hamas would care for its citizens, establish responsible state institutions, develop its economy and try to live in peace with its neighbors so that its own citizens could live in peace. These beliefs were soon disproven. Hamas should care for its citizens, but does it really?
• Hamas has invested tens of millions of dollars, not in economic and civil infrastructures, but in advanced weapons and military infrastructures.
• Hamas' conservative social order has greatly restricted women's rights in Gaza, with women being warned against immodesty, lawyers and students being forced to wear the veil in schools and courts, and women's rights' activists targeted by Hamas.
Hamas has enforced a conservative interpretation of Islam on the Gaza Strip’s Muslim population that particularly discriminated against women. Hamas’ “morality police” also punished women for riding motorcycles, smoking cigarettes or water pipes, leaving their hair uncovered, and dressing “inappropriately” (i.e., in Western-style or close-fitting clothing, such as jeans or T-shirts).
• Hamas' fundamentalist agenda has been adopted by officials and security personnel. Authorities generally prohibited public mixing of the sexes. Plainclothes officers routinely stopped, separated, and questioned couples to determine if they were married. Premarital sex is a crime punishable by imprisonment.
• So-called honor killings of women who have committed adultery are punished with severely reduced sentences in Gaza, sometimes as little as six months imprisonment.
• Since Hamas came to power, 33 people have been sentenced to death (13 were executed through the end of 2012 and another two in June 2013.)
According to the human rights organizations, capital punishment in the Palestinian legal system violates international law. Many offenses carry a mandatory death penalty, and capital punishment offenses, which can occur even in civil court, are not restricted to the most grievous crimes. Most of the death sentences are passed by military courts under the PLO Revolutionary Code. Due process is not observed.
In addition to the "official" executions, the Qassam Brigades (the military arm of Hamas) claimed responsibility for seven extrajudicial killings of persons accused of collaborating with Israel, dragging one of the bodies behind a motorcycle through the streets of Gaza City.
• Security forces in the Hamas Ministry of the Interior tortured and abused security detainees, persons associated with the Palestinian Authority or Fatah, those held on suspicion of collaboration with Israel, civil society activists, journalists, and those suspected of "immoral" activity.
Hamas took little or no action to investigate those reports of torture that were submitted, while the number of reports and documentation of abuses is limited due to victims' fear of retribution and to lack of access by NGO's to Gaza Strip prisoners.
• Hamas practices widespread arbitrary detention of Fatah members, civil society activists, and others accused of publicly criticizing Hamas.
• Journalists in Gaza are severely harassed and abused by security forces, leading to self-censorship and strongly curbing the free exchange of information and ideas. Critical journalists have been summoned for questioning by the internal security forces and government officials have called some journalists to warn them that their coverage was "slanted" or "biased".
• International media outlets have reported that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal vowed to kidnap Israeli soldiers as a means of pressuring Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.
• Islamic Jihad has been allowed to run summer camps
for children as young as 6 years old in which they are trained in military activities. Among the activities are the simulated kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. As many as 10,000 children at a time are given lessons in Islamic studies as well as grueling physical training, and it is believed that the camp’s purpose is to radicalize the next generation from a young age.