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Friday, June 4, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Hamas raids offices of group with foreign funding that publicized flotilla

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime has targeted a youth movement in the Gaza Strip.


Palestinian sources said Hamas security forces have been raiding offices and arresting staffers of the Sharek Youth Forum, Middle East Newsline reported. On May 31, Hamas Internal Security Forces officers stormed Sharek's central office in Gaza City and later closed a facility in the southern city of Rafah.

"There seems to be confusion as to the reason for this action and the party carrying it out," Sharek said on June 3. "Until now, no official position was communicated to us."

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Sharek, which helped publicize the Turkish-sponsored flotilla to the Gaza Strip, was said to be an independent Palestinian youth group that receives funding from abroad. The non-governmental organization has been in contact with both Palestinian and foreign human rights organizations in wake of the raids.

On May 31, amid the Israel Navy interception of the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, Hamas officers were said to have seized 18 computers, video and digital cameras from Sharek's Gaza City office. Several hours later, Hamas forces raided Sharek's office in Rafah, confiscated computers, an LCD projector and then shut the facility, owned by the Rafah Municipality.

"After the first attack, we contacted the Interior Ministry and Youth and Sports Ministry in Gaza City as well the security personnel responsible for security of NGOs, all of whom claimed they were not aware of this action," Sharek said.

This marked the latest Hamas raid of social organizations in the Gaza Strip. Previous targets included youth and sports clubs linked to the Fatah movement as well as Christian organizations and NGOs.

"We will continue providing our services despite the recent attacks. And we call upon the authorities in Gaza to immediately take action and reopen sister organizations that were ordered to close in Rafah and to ensure that civil society organizations and their staff are protected in the future," Sharek said.

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