A human-rights nongovernmental organization that has a special consultative status in the United Nations released a report last week that documented the fact that several hundred people were summoned, arrested and detained over the course of a year by the terrorist group Hamas solely because of their political beliefs.

Between March 1, 2018, and March 1 of this year, the Hamas security service summoned, arrested and detained 742 people, including five women, for exercising their beliefs, according to a report by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, which mentioned bans on press coverage, in addition to restrictions on the media and censorship of entertainment deemed to be against Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Al Mezan also documented reports of police exercising excessive force in dispersing protesters, journalists and human-rights activists.

“The ‘We Want to Live’ protests, which Hamas perceived to be a global conspiracy targeting the movement, have doubled the number of prisoners [being held for expressing their opinion] in an attempt to prevent the protests from escalating,” Samir Zaqout, Al Mezan’s director of monitoring and awareness, told Al-Monitor.

Zaqout mentioned that Hamas blocks access to visit prisoners.

“We are told that the security members in question are being held accountable, but we don’t know how,” he said. “Holding these members accountable doesn’t take place according to the law in force in the Palestinian territories, which requires the general prosecution to take action.”

He added, “There is no separation of powers, and the executive power is dominating all other authorities, which encourages greater and more violations.”

Al-Mezan, whose mission is “to promote respect and protection for all human rights; particularly ESCR [Economic, Social, Cultural Rights], in the Gaza Strip as part of OPT throughout research, legal intervention, advocacy and awareness,” has been documented by NGO Monitor as an anti-Israel.

It labels Israeli policies as “apartheid,” blaming Israel for “ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes,” encouraging the nakba [‘catastrophe’] narrative and describing Israeli security actions as “collective punishment.”

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