Palestine Pulse

Hamas takes rare action in alleged nepotism case following public pressure

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Article Summary
After an outcry from the Palestinian public, Hamas fined the son of one of its leaders in a case of corruption within its own ranks.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas released Sept. 23 the results of an investigation in the case of Anas Radwan, son of Hamas leader Ismail Radwan. Anas was traveling illegally to perform hajj in Mecca on Aug. 5 with the parents and close relatives of Palestinians who were killed in armed confrontations with the Israeli army. The case has occupied Palestinian public opinion.

Every year, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umra hosts for free 1,000 people from the families, sons and siblings of Palestinian martyrs.

The news went viral on social media, creating an uproar among activists who believe Anas deceived his relatives and took their place on the pilgrimage. Activists argued he did not have the right to accompany the families and relatives of the martyrs. His grandfather, however, was a PLO martyr.

To calm public anger, Hamas announced Aug. 7 the formation of the investigation committee to look into the incident, which concluded that Anas was not supposed to join the pilgrims; also, he was fined 5,000 dinars ($7,000) to be distributed among those who were denied travel to the Holy City.

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Ismail said in a press statement Aug. 6 that his son traveled to Mecca as part of his family's annual pilgrimage and under the supervision of the PLO-run Families of Martyrs and Wounded Support Foundation, based in Gaza City.

The foundation’s head, Enstar al-Wazir, said in a press statement Aug. 6 that Anas presented all the necessary documents proving that his uncles and aunts ceded their right to pilgrimage to him, which they obtained because their father, Mohammad Ali Abdel Qader Radwan, was killed in Beirut in 1984. This claim, however, was denied by the family, which issued a statement Aug. 7 saying that it did not cede its pilgrimage right to Anas. 

The investigation results were widely welcomed by the Palestinian street, which is not accustomed to the movement disclosing the details of any punitive measures against its leaders and members — this is usually done behind closed doors.

Atef Adwan, Hamas leader and head of the Economic Committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council, told Al-Monitor that since its inception, Hamas has based its approach on accountability, and many members have been held accountable for violations but away from the media.

Adwan said the results of the investigation in Anas' case were made public because the issue has become a public matter and it was important to highlight Hamas' position vis-a-vis what happened. He explained that the results were revealed after the views and input of all concerned parties were taken into account.

Adwan stressed that Hamas, with its great popularity and management of the Gaza Strip, is seen by the public as having a duty to investigate many of the cases its members or officials are accused of, adding that the Palestinian street welcomed the results of the investigation of Anas' case.

Al-Monitor tried to communicate with Anas. He refused and instead said to refer to his Sept. 23 statement in which he said, “I was surprised by Hamas' statement on my pilgrimage this year. I deplore these accusations, which were not investigated by the Families of Martyrs and Wounded Support Foundation — which has the prerogative in this issue.”

“I reject the policy of defamation and request the formation of an investigation committee by the competent parties to reveal the truth to the Palestinians,” read Anas' statement.

In September 2017, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar allowed the public and journalists to report any cases of corruption, especially in government institutions in the Gaza Strip that are run by Hamas affiliates.

Tarek Shamali, one of the activists galvanizing efforts against Anas, told Al-Monitor that social networking sites have contributed significantly to speeding up the process of accountability.

“I do not deny the internal accountability process within Hamas. But in this case, in particular, public pressure sped up the process and pressured the leadership. This was a case related to the behavior of someone very close to a leader in the movement,” Shamali said.

He said activists and Palestinians in Gaza were satisfied with and welcomed the results of the investigations.

For his part, Nasser al-Suweir, a political analyst and writer for Dunya al-Watan newspaper, said in a tweet Sept. 23 the fact that Hamas took the necessary measures in the case involving the son of one of its leaders shows that the people can pressure leaders to obey truth and justice.

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Ahmad Abu Amer is a Palestinian writer and journalist who has worked for a number of local and international media outlets. He is co-author of a book on the Gaza blockade for the Turkish Anadolu Agency. He holds a master’s degree from the Islamic University of Gaza.

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