Hamas' security forces forcibly evict 40 families in Umm al-Nasr village
Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip are outraged at the Hamas-run Gaza government after its security forces launched a violent crackdown on dozens of poor families living in makeshift homes in the village of Umm al-Nasr located in the north of the coastal enclave.
On Thursday, about 40 poor families were violently evicted from their homes by dozens of security forces, because they were built on government land. At least seven residents were wounded after they were severely beaten and shot by the Hamas government police.
Speaking to The New Arab, Hamad al-Swirki, a resident of the village, said "without any warning, a number of security forces stormed our homes and started shouting at us, demanding that we vacate our homes (...) and when we refused, they beat us with sticks and rifle butts."
"We have been living here for more than 15 years, after I lost my foot in an Israeli raid in 2008, and became destitute and poor. I cannot provide the minimum requirements for a decent life for my children," the 49-year-old father of eight added.
Al-Swirki further explained that he reached an agreement with the village municipality to pay a small fee for him and his family to live in, indicating that he has been committed to paying the modest rent for about four years.
"At first glance, we thought that Israeli forces were storming the place without regard for any of our human rights," Al-Swirki said, shocked by the forceful eviction.
A number of activists circulated photos and videos of the storming operation carried out by Hamas' security forces, expressing their anger at this "barbaric and inhumane" behaviour.
"I felt great sadness for those helpless families (...) and wondered how the security men living among us could be so ruthless and inhumane," Islam Helmy, one of the activists, said to The New Arab.
"I could not stand the screams of the women trying to escape the blows of the security men," she added, noting the need to hold to account all those who participated in this attack on poor, destitute families who do not have the money to live in good homes.
Salem al-Ashy, another citizen of Gaza, expressed his disapproval of the "painful event".
"How can a poor security man attack poor families in order to please his government official who earns a lot of money?" he said to TNA.
"Unfortunately, we have reached a catastrophic situation in Gaza (...) while Israel launches its military attacks against us, the Hamas government continues its attacks on us by deepening division, widening the circle of poverty among citizens, and eliminating what remains of social unity," he added.
On the other hand, officials in the Palestinian factions accused Hamas of handing over state lands to its employees instead of salaries and using them to implement special projects.
The Secretary of the National Labor Authority in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Al-Zaq, told The New Arab that Hamas is handing over state lands to its employees in lieu of salaries in an illegal procedure.
"Hamas controls public lands in the Strip, to implement its own projects, at a time when those lands should be allocated to establish hospitals and service centers for citizens," Al-Zaq said.
Former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat granted the citizens of Umm Al Nasr the right to build on those lands, which formed a protective shield against the occupation's takeover and expansion in favor of the settlements.
"But Hamas rewarded them by assaulting them, wounding, and arresting dozens of them," according to Al-Zaq.
On his part, Walid Al-Awad, a member of the Political Bureau of the People's Party, said that the attack by Hamas security forces on Umm Al-Nasr village aims at "confiscating lands from the Bedouin village to establish projects of an exceptional nature managed by the de-facto authority in the Gaza Strip."
Al-Awad accused Hamas of using violence arbitrarily on many issues, which leads to more tension in the Palestinian arena, and strains the internal atmosphere.
Jamil Sarhan, Deputy Director-General of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, called on the Hamas government to take into account humanitarian needs, especially right to housing, before it demolishes the homes of citizens and displaces them in the border village of Umm al-Nasr.
Sarhan stressed the need to follow up on what happened, bring justice to the citizens, and hold those who committed these actions accountable.
On his part, Iyad al-Bozom, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said in a statement that his ministry is following up on what happened this afternoon in the village of Umm Al-Nasr, indicating that an investigation has been opened into the incident to determine its circumstances.