Inside the Middle East
January 20, 2012
Posted: 1727 GMT

It was slightly before midnight last Friday when Mahmoud Abu Rahma was walking home from his office at the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza City. But before he made it to his house he was set upon by three masked assailants. The men stabbed Abu Rahma multiple times in the leg and shoulder while screaming that he was an "atheist" and a "collaborator".

Even as the attack began Abu Rahma says he knew what it was about.

Three weeks ago, on New Year's eve, he published a scathing article on a Palestinian news website titled "The Gap Between Resistance and Governance." In it he took Palestinian political factions to task for their lack of tolerance, rampant corruption, and liberal use of torture and arrests to harass those who criticize them.

"Power and authority with a poor moral foundation are doomed to fail. They will destroy themselves and lead their people to corruption and injustice," Abu Rahma wrote in the essay.

"The people of any nation have a responsibility to criticize those who lead them. We must look in the mirror before we can see ourselves clearly. "

Mahmoud Abu Rahma
Mahmoud Abu Rahma

Abu Rahma also criticized armed militant groups for endangering the lives of civilians.

The unsparing critique on the powers-that-be in the West Bank and Gaza brought an immediate reaction.

Abu Rahma says he was quickly subjected to a series of threatening email and phone calls and three days after publication a group of masked men entered his building and beat him up.

During the course of the second attack Abu Rahma was able to escape his assailants and get home where family and friends got him medical attention.

The Hamas-controlled Information Ministry in Gaza said in a statement the government was investigating the circumstances of the attack on Abu Rahma and called it a violation of human rights. It also said Gaza authorities respected the right of political expression as long as it conformed with "national responsibility."

But international rights organizations like Human Rights Watch say the governments in both Gaza and the West Bank are complicit in the abuse and harassment of Palestinian critics using both detention and torture as a means of repression.

"Hamas's failure to protect Abu Rahma, who has been a leading voice for human rights in Gaza, sends a chilling message to other human rights defenders," says Human Rights Watch's Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson.

"Hamas needs to investigate the attacks against him promptly and thoroughly and to appropriately punish those found responsible."

Speaking on the phone from Gaza, Abu Rahma says he does not know who is behind the "cowardly attack" but says the attempt to silence those looking to improve Palestinian society will not work.

He remains unbowed and said the tremendous outpouring of support following his article and subsequent attacks has only stiffened his resolve.

"I am confident that the Palestinian people will stand together for human rights and self freedom of expression"

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Filed under: Fatah •Gaza •Hamas •Human Rights •Palestinians •West Bank

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yosef a.   January 20th, 2012 8:25 pm ET

This man is clearly going to be killed by the hamas grope. His days are numbers. That is how they keep their peoples under control ......until the Palestinian will have freedom and press, freedom of anyone to criticize the government. They will not have peace with Israel and the Palestinians will suffer.

sameh   January 27th, 2012 7:42 pm ET

Children bewitched miracle God Sobhan

Daniel   January 31st, 2012 3:40 pm ET

How about the responsibility of international media which has ignored the tactic of the armed Palestinian groups to embed their fighters within the civilians when lunching rocket attacks against Israeli civilians?

Aren't they providing "value" (PR value) to one of the tactics these groups use and which this courageous man is criticizing?

Giving only part of a story is a way of distortion one often put to use by International Media bent on adding spice to their reporting !!!

Esp20   February 3rd, 2012 2:58 am ET

Abu Rahma is a man that dared to voice his political views in spite of the risk of being killed by militant groups such as Hamas. Why else would Rahma refuse to be silenced even after such a brutal attack—because he knows he is right! More people like Abu Rahma are in great need before civilian lives can be saved.

David   February 15th, 2012 6:10 am ET

Find out what the US State Department doesn't know about Mossad trained sharks and other Western plots. Or how conspiracy theories define the American-Middle Eastern relationship.

dvir   February 18th, 2012 4:41 am ET

now we know. the palestinians are opressing the human rights.

Yusil   March 13th, 2012 2:21 am ET

Why is the western media not in Gaza?

pdq_sailor   March 15th, 2012 11:53 am ET

What this comes as news or a surprise? Hamas has interest in staying in power. There is no opposition permitted. They do not want to govern they want to rule and there is a difference. As long as there is even one group with a violent agenda who are permitted to operate there will never be peace with Israel and containing and controlling these animals is totally justified. Blockade runners on land or by sea beware – Israel can not and will not tolerate bad behaviour. They fired 250 missiles these past days and it cost 26 lives – including 4 civilians for exactly the reason put forth – the militants are using civilians as human shields. Object and be silenced. What do the militants say to the parents of the children so killed? Do they say it is their fault or do they say it is Israel's fault? They are cowards – if you fire a missile be prepared to die alone. Israel tracks the origin points of the missile launches with great accuracy and takes them out quickly enough to kill the ones who fired them as it should be. The people can not tolerate a government that does or allows missiles to be fired or they have to pay the consequences for doing so.

Barry Lessinger   March 15th, 2012 7:30 pm ET

why doesn't the liberal media and palestinian apoliogists discuss this and how many are aware that isael has killed fewer palestinians than Hamas and Hezbollah. Fotunately there are few to no Muslims in CR
Islam is a religion of hatred and violence and should be banned in the civilized world, no toleance for others should be met with no tolerance for them

Volkan   March 16th, 2012 2:45 pm ET

people who speak out freely often get attacked....
some people don't like when others have different opinions
if you are known, you are already a target.

audio editor

lorrie   March 16th, 2012 2:57 pm ET

Gaza Strip people want peace they do not want the rockets firing to any country and being lied to that the end is here again . Saudi Arabia is the one that pulls the strings on their neighboring countries and they have peace and quiet in their backyard and they are the ones who are barbcueing the other countries. Saudi Arabia lose all your money and their will be peace in the Middle East.

FU9L   March 23rd, 2012 8:28 pm ET

Gaza Strip people want peace they do not want the rockets firing to any country and being lied to that the end is here again .
not true if that was true they would kill those who are doing it not even close to reality

William   March 30th, 2012 7:26 am ET

Gaza rights. He is kidding and devious like the neo nazis and still carries the centuries old banner of 'kill the Jews' now in this century it's excuse is gaza.
Last century his mufti of Jerusalem in 1939' well before modern Israel, was with hitler working on a final solution for the hundreds of thousand of Jews living in and around their ancestral homeland.
Imagine what America would do if Mexicans tried to march into Houston and demand Texas back?
Now imagine if Mexico fired 8000 rockets loaded with children killing ball beatings into San Antonio and demanded Texas back?
Would America write a letter to the UN and ask them to pretty please stop?
Palestinians teach their children that stabbing an American baby to death on its crib is a ticket to heaven with 72 virgins for an eternity of orgies.
It's in their school textbooks paid for by the USA!
Bravo Israel for defending its centuries old biblical homeland and being the only place in the middle east where 2 million Arabs chose to stay, live, enjoy citizenship and even have a fellow Arab sitting on the supreme court of Israel.

Tenebrae   April 8th, 2012 10:37 am ET

So......Emma Thompson et al, should you not now boycott the "palestinian"actors?!!!!!

W.G.   April 19th, 2012 11:55 am ET

Hamas is a terrorist organization. All they know murder .
The dire situation the people in Gaza are in is a direct result
of the murderers they´ve elected into office . I do not feel sorry
for the Palestinians it´s their own fault for the situation they
are in .

clappedout   April 23rd, 2012 8:47 pm ET

What have the Palestinians done for us.

Well, Suicide bombs, Kidnapping,Plane hijackings,murder, and now daily shooting of Rockets.

well, what a CV for a people who want to be represented at the UN.

well, Way back in 1947...the General Assembly at the UN offered resolution 181.Partition for the Arabs and the Jews.

64 years later Israel is a thriving democracy,the sole democracy in that region. Unlike Syria,Bahrain,etc

t   April 30th, 2012 10:09 am ET

this is just to my Barry and daniel...firstly barry read before you talk nothing in the qoran says anything about violence sop before u make a retarded opinion which obviously you have....use ur pathetic excfuse of a brain and muslim but my no means religious and probably agnostic in fact i think the world wud be better off without it ..but most people find it important, and do so in moderation without crossing the boundaries... Islam does not encourage violence at all you have to do is read i know it may sound difficult...its uneducated people who have been living under a bloodsucking Western backed dictators(Egypt), religious nuts (which histroy shows most religious nutcases Iran, Taliban and Saudi Arabia have all been put in place by America)... or bloodthirsty (zionists) ruining whatever is left of Gaza and tearing up the west bank... the Zionists whether christian OR Jewish ARE THERE TO FULFILL A BIBLICAL NEED.......As for Daniel cry me a river boy... rockets aimed at Israeli civilians are you serious??????how about white PHOSPHORUS AGAINST children(i don't like hamaas cuz i don't like religious political parties..and before u comment the USA's equivilant is the jesus worshiping republican party)......just go and read Noam Chomsky..or any Israeli defense documents that truly portrays the horror of what happened and what is happening in Gaza( its close to Genocide) and whats happening in terms of segregation is definitely APARTHEID, Israeli activists, amnystey international and Huyman rights watch all called it 'warcrimes against humanity'....or how about the settlements being built which are ILLEGAL under INTERNATIONAL LAW....or how About the great USofA....did you know that it is illegal in america to sell weapons to nations who are constant violators of human rights (which ISRAEL IS).....Or how about the UN votes huh.....the overwhelming international consensus that shows a two state solution by the agreed 1967 border....guess who are opposed???any guess Israel USA and (to my horror and dread cuz im half Australian) Austrailia against the whole world......You guys are either dumb, extremely religious or just in denial..........Im not religious , i doubt religion and i hate Hamaas, Iran and in my country the Slafis And Muslim Brotherhood....but Israel is just on another planet when it comes to killing, torture, illegal activities, chemical weapons use...and no where in the Qoran does it indicate to use fact if u read it u wudv known there's a famous verse that says ' You believe in ur god i believe in mine'.... uneducated crazy people kill people not religion.

t   April 30th, 2012 10:18 am ET

sorry i forgot to add this little nugget for u Barry............During the gaza crisis over a thousand dead on the Palestinian side over 95 % of which were CIVILIAN as opposed to \Israel 20 casualties ( i use casualty because when a Palestinian poor worthless child is killed, by israel's standard that is hardly a casualty) ... of those 20 Israeli's that died 505 were because of friendly fire in case u don't know that means killed by his own people by mistake)..oh and before you through the Israeli argument' Hamaas uses Human shields' amnystey international and the Goldstone report ( a report done by a pro-zionist international judge and the person responsible for bringing transparency to the Gaza crisis) found no evidence of such claims

t   April 30th, 2012 10:22 am ET


Paul V   May 6th, 2012 9:10 pm ET

This behavior is consistent with past behavior of Arab extremists. The only thing they know is violence.

miriam   May 8th, 2012 4:05 pm ET


It seems that one doesn't have to be religious to be indoctrinated with anti-Israel propaganda. In certain countries it is part and parcel of the education.

Since the Goldstone Report was published it has been admitted by the head of he committee that the report would have looked a lot different if they had known what they know now.
Obviously, lapping up false stories and myths is not the way to conduct a report even when given a biased mandate with pre-determined conclusions.

Israel did not use WP against civilians or terrorists although they did use WP containing smoke-screens as permitted under international law.

Israel is not Apartheid. Arabs and Jews serve together in the Supreme Court, in the Knesset, treat each other in hospitals, travel together on buses, sit together on beaches, work and shop together and share meals in cafes.

There are no "war crimes against humanity" and settlements are not illegal under International Law.

There were no "1967 borders" although there were 1949 Armistice Lines drawn on condition they were not permanent borders.
There could be "world consensus" that the world is flat but that wouldn't make it true, right or accurate.

If you are or religious you should understand that not all Zionists are religious. Jews are a people not just a religion.

Finally, even Hamas spokesman Fathi Hamad admitted that most of the Gazan casualties were Hamas combatants and that statistics were much closer to those claimed by Israel than those of the agenda-obsessed, anti-Israel NGOs.

Yusil   May 10th, 2012 8:23 pm ET

Miriam says that Israel has no war criminals and is not in dereliction of International Law. The majority of the world has a different opinion. Israel is a rogue state and survives only via the VETO of the USA.

miriam   May 13th, 2012 1:15 pm ET


If the majority of the world has a different opinion, then the majority of the world is ignorant with regards to International and Humanitarian Law.

I would suggest that the majority of the world is ignorant with regards to those laws.

I would also suggest that the majority of the world doesn't have a clue about Israel and the ME conflict.

Just because you and everyone around you have a distorted picture of reality, it does not prove hat everyone else in the world is deceived by the same disinformation, despite what they may hear form the media and their leaders.

Yusil   May 16th, 2012 3:05 pm ET


That’s just the problem you and your society have. Arrogant, self righteous and fanatical. It is impossible to negotiate in good faith on the ME issues with types of your ilk. Let history take care of the reality on the ground.

miriam   May 20th, 2012 10:08 am ET


Psychological projectionism is the common tool used by those who cannot accept that Israel has a right to exist and even that Jews are legitimate.

Projecting your own characteristics and deficiencies on to the other side in the effort to disguise your own motives might fool the ignorant but is an old tactic that is sooner or later uncovered.

It is obvious that arrogance is responsible for your attitude to society that is not your own, self-righteousness would be a reason for your being convinced that anti- Zionism is the attitude of most of the world, and your obsession with Israel and the associated myths and lies can only reflect fanatical bigotry.

MCGH1   December 4th, 2012 12:12 pm ET

Saddest thing about the truth getting out in the end, it proves the article (and author's) point.
Case in point.
Well done Mr. Rahma.

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