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Leftist Groups Slam 'Invalid' Crackdown on Hamas

B'Tselem and Gisha criticize Israel for taking steps against the terrorist organization Hamas following its kidnapping.
By Shlomo Pyotrkovsky, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/17/2014, 6:41 PM

IDF soldiers in Shechem
IDF soldiers in Shechem
Flash 90

The extreme-left NGO B'Tselem lost no time Tuesday in condemning the Knesset Security Cabinet's decision earlier in the day, which gave the internal security minister a freer hand to harshen prison conditions for jailed Hamas terrorists.

B'Tselem Director Hagai Elad struck out at the decision, calling it "a typical example of invalid collective punishment, whose main goal appears to be silencing the demands with a heavy hand by the Israeli political system," reports Walla!.

Elad's reference to "demands" appears to relate to the 80 Arab terrorists who were hospitalized after refusing to eat for nearly two months. Israel has presented a controversial bill to force-feed them.

It should be noted that the Cabinet decision came in response to the kidnapping of three teenagers last Thursday by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel, and which openly calls for genocide against the Jewish people.

B'Tselem wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday that while it shares the "anxiety" over the three students, "it is up to the State’s authorities to take all measures necessary in order to ensure that human rights are being upheld. Collective punishment must be avoided. Defense forces must also take measures to prevent violence against Palestinians."

Preventing terrorists smuggling teens to Gaza is "illegal"

Not to be outdone, the extreme leftist group Gisha ("Approach") released a statement on Tuesday, protesting the limitation on passage for Arabs to Gaza after the kidnapping.

The step was taken so as to prevent the possibility of Hamas terrorists absconding to the Hamas-stronghold of Gaza with the three teenagers, from which Israeli rescue attempts would be considerably harder, as illustrated by the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

Nevertheless, Gisha wrote in a statement that while it denounces kidnappings of citizens and the firing of rockets on population centers, "by the same token, it's forbidden to harm civilian populations by limited the movement of people and goods."

The leftist group said that Tuesday marks the fifth day since limitations were placed on passage to Gaza, noting "traffic at the Erez Crossing is allowed only for the sick and foreigners leaving from Gaza, and the Kerem Shalom Crossing is only open for the passage of fuel (to Gaza)."

"Spices that were meant for import to the US on Sunday are still left in the warehouse," complained the group. "A group of children that was supposed to go to a music summer camp in Ramallah are left at home."

Two of the three teens kidnapped by Hamas last Thursday were aged 16, the third was 19.

"This is the eighth time since Operation Pillar of Defense, in November 2012, that passage to the (Gaza) Strip is closed following security attacks, even when there doesn't appear to be or is not claimed to be a connection between the decision and the security threat of the passage," said Gisha.

The group called the closure of the passages "a directed attack on citizens in opposition to international law."