Hamas shuts up critical Arab journalists in Gaza

An Arab journalist once openly critical of the Hamas terror movement’s rule over Gaza will no longer write about politics after being brutally beaten in jail.

Ayman al-Aloul was arrested along with another outspoken critic, Ramzi Herzallah, in their homes in Gaza City on January 3.

Both were released Monday after nine days in jail, which included beatings and trips to a torture room, known euphemistically as “the bus,” in which prisoners are forces to sit blindfolded on children-sized chairs for the entirety of a day.

Following the experience, al-Aloul said his work will now be constrained to less controversial topics such as entertainment and food.

“I’ve decided not to talk about the general situation anymore,” al-Aloul told the Associated Press (AP) from his home on Tuesday. “The experience I went through was very difficult.”

Al-Aloul’s arrest is part of a crackdown by Hamas amid rising unrest among the Gaza populace. Critics of the terror group’s rule have become more outspoken on social media and Hamas’ attempts to raise taxes have also provoked rare protests.

In his social media activity over the past few months, Al-Aloul has been vocal in urging Hamas to withdraw from the Rafah crossing and hand control over to the Palestinian Authority in order for Egypt to agree to open it.

He also posted pictures of people hunting for food in garbage cans, cited business owners enraged over the new taxes and blamed Hamas for ongoing power outages.

“They think that my posts on Facebook harm the Gaza government,” al-Aloul said. “They considered criticizing the government to be criticism of ‘the resistance’ and they accused me of harming the revolutionary unity.”

While Hamas continues to deny it intimidates or tortures opponents and critics, Akram Sourani, a local satirist, told AP he believes the latest string of arrests will have their intended goal of stamping out criticism.

“Unfortunately, this right has become an issue of debate among the writers. ‘Shall I write or not? Shall I express or not?'” said Sourani, who himself was summoned by Hamas police last month. “I think we must continue to speak out.”