Hamas has begun operating a “vice and virtue commando” in the Gaza Strip to safeguard Islamic values, Palestinian security officials and residents told The Jerusalem Post.
The new force, called the Anti-Corruption Unit, is believed to be behind the gruesome murder over the weekend of Yusra al-Azzami, a 22-year-old university student from the northern Gaza Strip.
Her “crime” was that she was seen in public with her fiance.
Hamas’s “morality” patrolmen first spotted the young couple strolling along the beach in Gaza City, together with Azzami’s younger sister. After enjoying the spectacular sunset over the sea, they got into the future husband’s car and started driving towards Azzami’s home.
According to eyewitness accounts, five masked gunmen who were in another car gave chase, opening fire at Azzami, who was sitting in the front seat next to her fianc . She died instantly.
The fianc and sister were later brutally beaten and moderately injured by the attackers.
The incident took place at a busy intersection in Gaza City.
What happened immediately afterwards left many passersby traumatized.
The assailants dragged the young woman’s body out of the car, pouncing upon it mercilessly with clubs and iron bars.
“It was the most horrific crime I’ve seen in my life,” said a university student who witnessed the attack. “What they did to the body while it was lying on the ground was barbaric. This does not represent Islam.” The student, who asked not to be named, said he and several other people at the scene were too afraid to interfere. “We waited until the gunmen left the area before we called the police and an ambulance,” he added.
Hamas initially denied any link to the murder, but later admitted that the assailants belonged to one of its groups. It also admitted that the murderers were responsible for cracking down on men and women who defy Islamic teachings by appearing in public together.
To their credit, PA policemen have arrested two suspects. “This does not represent Islam,” a student said. But he didn’t dare give his name, and bystanders who watched the murder in progress didn’t dare call the police until the perpetrators had left the scene. So I guess that’s the question that needs to be resolved. The McCartney murder in Northern Ireland may have been a turning point in public attitudes toward Irish terrorism. Who knows, maybe this crime could mobilize popular opinion against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Palestine.