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Friday, October 5, 2007     New: Take a Stand

Hamas established morality police to check secular Fatah

GAZA CITY The new Hamas regime has established a morality police force in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said Hamas's Executive Force has organized a unit meant to monitor Islamic observance, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said the EF unit has officers stationed at roadblocks as well as in patrols of Gaza City and other major towns.

"Even though there is no official law, the Executive Force now imposes Sharia in Gaza, and anybody found to be in violation could be arrested and beaten," a Palestinian source said.

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Palestinian sources said the morality police marked another tool by the Hamas regime against the opposition Fatah movement, regarded as secular. On Oct. 3, Hamas police arrested scores of Fatah members in wake of an explosion that killed four people near a Hamas security compound in Gaza City.

The sources said Hamas has employed women in the EF morality squad. They said the women officers have inspected women to ensure that their hair and bodies were fully covered.

Three of the victims were Fatah members, officials said. Hamas said a car bomb assembled by Fatah that targeted the Hamas security compound blew up prematurely on Oct. 2.

''We take this criminal act very seriously and we are not going to allow anyone to gamble and play with the security of our people,'' Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab Hussan said.

Fatah said Hamas fired a rocket-propelled grenade toward the vehicle. Palestinian sources said the victims were members of the Fatah military wing, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

"It became clear that the explosion occurred inside a yellow taxi, which was completely destroyed and burned," the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said. "All occupants were killed and dismembered."

On Thursday, three Hamas police officers were injured in a blast during their patrol of Gaza City. Fatah was also blamed for the attack, which took place hours after Hamas captured and evacuated a four-story Fatah building.

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