According to the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, a Hamas-run police force in Gaza used batons and rifle butts to beat demonstrators who gathered in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, last week to commemorate Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

Apparently the police targeted the march because it was organized by the rival Fateh party, which has been trying to regain power in Gaza since the Hamas party won popular elections in 2006.


According to the Al-Mezan Center, the march took place on Friday April 17th.  The Center investigated allegations of abuse by participants in the march.  One of those who alleged abuse by the Hamas police was Emad al-Ajrami, a cameraman of the Media Group.  He told Al-Mezan investigators that police prevented him from filming and confiscated his video camera. The police informed al-Ajrami that he could collect his camera from the public investigation office at Rafah police station.


The Al-Mezan report stated that after Friday prayers, at approximately 1:30pm, the march began at al-Awda Mosque and moved west. When the demonstrators reached al-Shuhda'a Secondary School on Abu Baker Street, policemen assaulted them using cudgels, while others opened fire in the air. According to eyewitnesses, the police followed a number of participants after they fled to side streets, and beat many of them.


In addition, Al-Mezan reported that twelve-year-old Ahmed Muflih al-Ewadi was beaten and taken to a hospital for treatment and suffered from bruises. Also, 32-year-old Khader Sha'at was treated at a hospital after being assaulted by the police. He was stopped during the march and was detained for three hours, after which he could reach the hospital. Also, 24-year-old Shaker Sheikh al-Eid was arrested for one hour.


Al Mezan demanded an investigation into this incident "in order to ensure that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are practiced in accordance with the law, and full respect and protection of human rights is provided."