Red Cross in Gaza Reopens Office After Violent Protests

GAZA CITY (AP) -
An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) vehicle drives by houses which were destroyed during this summer's offensive between Hamas and Israel, on their way to assist Palestinian farmers to repair their fields on October 22, 2014, in Khan Yunis' Khuzaa neighbourhood, southern Gaza Strip near the Israeli border. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** öå÷ àéúï öìá äàãåí ç÷ìàåú òæä ôìñèéðé ôìùúéðé
An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) vehicle in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, in this 2014 file photo. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has reopened its Gaza office after closing it the previous day in response to repeated attempts by protesters to storm it.

Spokeswoman Suhair Zakkout said Monday all normal activities were resumed after “discussions” with officials from Hamas, the Islamic terror group that rules the Gaza Strip. She declined to elaborate.

Dozens of Gazans have protested daily at the office in recent weeks in solidarity with Mohammed al-Qeq, a 33-year-old Palestinian journalist who has been on a hunger strike for 76 days, demanding that the Red Cross help bring about his release. Al-Qeq is being detained by Israel for involvement in Hamas terror activities. The Gazans tried to enter the building forcefully on Sunday, causing damage.

Meanwhile, Hamas said Sunday that it has killed one of its own commanders over unnamed “moral and behavioral violations.”

Hamas said in a short social media statement that Mahmoud Eshtewi, a local member of the group’s military wing, was killed after he confessed. It said the decision to kill Eshtewi, who was detained in January 2015, was taken by its “military and religious judiciary,” a previously unheard-of department.

The group is not known to have killed its own members during peacetime, and the vague language used in the statement indicated Eshtewi was killed for reasons other than spying.

“We are shocked,” his sister, Buthaina, screamed over the phone. “He can’t be executed based on the reasons they provide.” She said Hamas officials had met the family in the morning and told them that they were considering his release. “They tricked us,” she said.

Eshtewi’s relatives said they had only been allowed to visit him three times during the year he was detained. They said he was not found guilty of spying, without elaborating.

Human Rights Watch said it was following Eshtewi’s case “with concern” after his family told the New York-based group that he was arrested and tortured for criticizing more senior Hamas commanders.