Hamas Agrees to Probe Deaths of Alleged Israel Collaborators

At least four suspected collaborators and five others killed while in custody of Gaza's 'Internal Security.'

Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh approved last week the recommendation of the local interior ministry's special investigative committee to dismiss and court-martial 11 policemen on suspicion of causing the death of detainee Zayad Ayash Jaradat. A decision on the death of another detainee is still pending.

Jaradat, 40, from Shucha near Rafah, was arrested by Gaza police on criminal suspicions on March 15. He was transferred to the custody of the anti-drug unit, which took him home to demand he discloses several items they said were hidden there. According to eyewitnesses, who spoke to field workers of the Independent Human Rights Council, some of the policemen beat him at the scene.

On March 16, the family was informed that Jaradat had died. According to a human rights council field worker and a lawyer, the body had bruises on the head, neck and limbs.

A week later, the authorities announced the death of another detainee: 19-years-old Gameel Nassar Asaaf, arrested on suspicion of theft by Gaza City police on March 9. He was detained at the Tufach police station for three days, and then transferred to Shifa hospital in a comatose state and suffering kidney failure. A human rights council field worker visited him before his death and found bruises on him as well.

The council said that these two cases were comparatively easy to uncover, as both detainees were arrested in official police operations and held at well-known police stations, under "ordinary" criminal suspicions.

However, the council stressed that March alone saw at least four instances of arrests and murders by men presenting themselves as "Internal Security," an incarnation of Gaza's political police.

On all four occasions, the arrested men were accused of collaborating with Israel. Five more people, whose bodies were discovered after a short while, were arrested in the same month by armed men who didn't provide any identification.

The investigative committee had been set up following sustained pressure on the Gaza government by all human rights organizations active in the Strip, who demanded to investigate all deaths in custody.

The human rights council said last week that they were promised that deaths occurring under "vague" circumstances will also be investigated.