Ref: 18/2006

Date:  14 February 2006

Time: 12:00 GMT 

 University Lecturer Injured by Gunmen in Gaza City

         Yesterday evening, unidentified gunmen targeted Dr. Ayoub Othman, Professor of English Literature at Al-Azhar University and head of its employees’ union, injuring him in the left leg.

         PCHR strongly condemns this crime and calls upon the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), represented by the Attorney-General, to conduct an investigation in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

 

PCHR’s initial investigation and the statement of Dr. Ayoub Othman indicate that at approximately 21:55, on the evening of Monday, 13 February 2006, unidentified gunmen traveling in a white “Subaru” with reflecting windows, fired at Dr. Othman.  The license plate of the car indicate that it may have been stolen.  At the time, Dr. Othman was leaving the “El-Redwan Supermaket” in the Sheikh Redwan neighborhood of Gaza City.  Dr. Othman was hit with a bullet to the left leg and was transferred to the orthopedic ward of El-Shifa Hospital in the city, where his condition was classified as moderate.

A week earlier, Dr. Othman had received a threat by telephone from an unidentified person.  The caller demanded the Dr. Othman halt his critical statements at Al-Azhar University and end his request to hold elections for the University Council.  Dr. Othman informed PCHR’s fieldworker that there are certain parties that do not want these elections, which will be detrimental to their personal interests.

This assault comes within the context of a continuous and dangerous escalation of internal security chaos, especially in the Gaza Strip.  This recent spate of lawlessness has included the kidnapping of internationals, including journalists and staff of international organizations, as well as attacks on public institutions.

It is noted that Al-Azhar University in Gaza has witnessed a number of regrettable incidents over the past few years.  These incidents have stemmed from the interference of security forces in internal university affairs.  As a result, militancy has spread on campus, damaging the University’s reputation and creating a state of administrative and security instability. 

The most notable incident was the killing of lecturer Yaser Al-Madhoun, when a bomb was planted under his chair on 27 November 2004.  And on 11 October 2005, a group of 50 people comprised of students and security personnel, attacked the weekly meeting of the University Council and beat its members.  The assailants broke furniture and forcibly marched the University President and Council members off campus, in front of the student body.

PCHR strongly condemns resorting to violence and threats, and calls upon the PNA to put an end to these crimes.  The Centre calls upon the Attorney-General to conduct a serious investigation into this crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

 

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