Ref: 98/2010


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the
government in Gaza to seriously investigate the circumstances of an internal
explosion, in which 16 persons were wounded, including 17 children, and 3
schools and a number of neighboring houses were damaged. The explosion occurred in a training site of
the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) in Rafah town in the
southern Gaza Strip.


According to investigations conducted by PCHR and testimonies of
eyewitnesses, at approximately 10:15 on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, three
successive explosions took place in a training site of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam
Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, which is located in a densely
populated area in Abu Baker al-Seddiq Street in Tal a-Sultan neighborhood in
the west of Rafah. Before the explosions
had taken place, the site caught fire, smoke billowed and some persons were
seen fleeing from the place. The
explosions left 26 injuries, including 17 school children, as the children were
in front of and inside their schools. The wounded persons were transported to Martyr Mohammed Yousef al-Najjar
Hospital in Rafah to receive necessary medical treatment.


The training site is located in a densely populated area, where a
street of approximately 20-meter width separates the site from the buildings
and 3 UNRWA primary and preparatory schools. Dozens of houses, the 3 schools and the electricity network were damaged
due to the explosion. The schools are
located within a housing project established by UNRWA to accommodate people
whose houses had been destroyed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) earlier.


On Thursday, 21 October 2010, the "Rafah Media Network"
website, affiliated to the Information Bureau of Hamas in Rafah published
reported that: "Hamas started estimating the damages caused to a number
of houses adjacent to the resistance site where the internal explosion occurred
on Wednesday morning, 20 October 2010. In his statement to Rafah Media Network, a local official of Hamas said
that the Movement will immediately reconstruct the houses that were damaged due
to the explosion after assessment of damages."


It should be noted that an internal explosion occurred on 2 August
2010 in Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, as a result of
which, 58 persons, including 14 children and 9 women, were wounded, 7 houses
were completely destroyed and another 30 ones were damaged. PCHR called upon the government in Gaza then
to seriously initiate an investigation and publish its results. However, PCHR has not so far learnt of
conducting any investigation or taking any measures to ensure the recurrence of
such incidents.


In light of the above, PCHR:


1. Calls upon the
government in Gaza to seriously investigate the circumstances of the explosion
in Rafah and publish its results; and

2. Points to the
seriousness of the continued storage of explosives by the Palestinian
resistance groups in civilian-populated areas, which poses a constant threat to
the lives of civilians, and constitutes a violation of human rights and
international humanitarian law; accordingly, such behavior must be banned. Storing explosives in such a way becomes more
serious under the IOF’s public and continued threats to attack such sites.