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Gaza Strip activist leaves hospital after stabbing attack

January 18, 2012 |  9:50 am

This story has been updated. See the note below.

REPORTING FROM GAZA CITY -- Palestinian human rights activist Mahmoud abu Rahma left a Gaza Strip
hospital Wednesday after being stabbed last week by unknown assailants apparently motivated by his outspoken criticism of Palestinian militants.

[Updated 11:19 a.m. Jan. 18: Recuperating at his family home, Rahma said the attack would not silence him.

"This will not stop me from performing my duty as an activist in human rights and to continue writing articles," he said in a telephone interview.]

Rahma, who is international relations director at the Gaza Strip-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, was attacked by masked men Friday night as he left his brother's home. He was stabbed in the back, leg and shoulder, but was able to fend off his attackers with a laptop computer, according to Al Mezan officials.

It was the second assault since he penned a provocative article, published by the Palestinian Maan News Agency, blasting Palestinian leaders for failing to adequately protect the rights of citizens. Though the piece did not mention Hamas by name, Rahma criticized Palestinian governments and self-styled resistance movements for silencing their critics, failing to allow peaceful assembly, detaining and torturing political opponents and endangering civilians by placing military installations in residential neighborhoods.

He cited cases of Gaza children who were killed by misfired missiles aimed at Israel or caught in the crossfire of Israeli retaliatory strikes.

"Facts on the ground indicate clear examples where Palestinian citizens in Gaza and the West Bank find themselves clashing with the government and/or resistance,'' he wrote. "One can only wonder in such cases: Who will protect citizens from the mighty resistance and the powerful government when one, or both, harm them?"

Following the article's publication, Rahma told Maan that he began receiving death threats. Hamas officials denied involvement or knowledge of the attack against him and vowed to investigate.

About two dozen activists, writers and human rights advocates gathered Wednesday outside the Al Mezan human rights center in a gesture of solidarity.

"No one should be punished for writing an article, especially after the 'Arab Spring,'' ' said Alaa Emadadeen, a Mezan Center official. "I do not accuse anybody, but the Hamas government is responsible for protecting the people of Gaza and bringing whoever attacked Abu Rahma to justice.“

Hatem abu Rahma, a cousin of the activist, said he visited his relative in the hospital early Wednesday.

"He was in bad spirits," Rahma said. "I hope he will overcome this problem. The only way to get him back to his normal life is to punish the criminals."

Separately, Israeli forces said they killed two young Palestinian men they suspected of trying to plant explosive devices along the border of northern Gaza. Palestinian officials said the men were civilians riding in a donkey cart near the border.

In response, Palestinians militants fired two rockets into southern Israel. It caused no damage or injuries.

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-- Rushdi abu Alouf

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