Ref: 19/2006

Date:  15 February 2006

Time: 12:00 GMT 

  

Child Killed in a Family Dispute in Khan Yunis

            Palestinian child killed this morning in clashes between two families, which have been ongoing in Khan Yunis for several weeks.

            PCHR views this incident as a dangerous escalation of the security chaos, which is undermining the rule of law in the OPT.

 

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 08:00 on the morning of Wednesday, 15 February 2006, Ibrahim Salim Safi (13) was killed by a bullet to the left side of his body.  The bullet was fired during an exchange of fire between members of the Abu Taha and El-Masri families in Khan Yunis.  At the time of his death, the child had been cleaning a warehouse belonging to his family in the area where the clashes were taking place.

 

Armed clashes between the Abu Taha and El-Masri families resumed on the evening of Monday, 13 February 2006.  Scores of gunmen, armed with guns and homemade rockets, from both families roamed the streets.  Gunmen from the Abu Taha family burned a house belonging to a member of the El-Masri family.  And on the morning of the following day, armed clashes resumed, with explosions heard throughout the city.  Seven people, including 3 children were injured.  Among the injured was Taysir Jum’a Abu Taha, 25, who is now in a coma after suffering a bullet injury to the head.

 

The clashes also extended to Rafah.  At approximately 15:40, members of the Abu Taha family fired at shops belonging to members of the rival family in Abu Bakr El-Siddiq Street, in the centre of the city.  These attacks coincided with the time school students go home and 7 pupils suffered injuries.

 

The clashes between the two families over the past few weeks have led to the death of 6 people, 3 from the rival families.  The other 3 were from other families and were caught in the crossfire.  In addition, 28 people were injured.  The continuation of the clashes is endangering the lives of civilians and the conflict has involved the erection of roadblocks in the area, the spread of armed gunmen and planting explosive devices on roads.  Some civilians were forced to flee their homes in the areas where clashes were taking place.  In addition, study was suspended in Ahmad Abdel Aziz School and Osama El-Najjar School, which are located in the conflict area.  The nearby market was partially closed.

 

PCHR is concerned over the escalation of armed clashes between feuding families and the increasing number of victims, resulting from such violence.  The escalation of violent clashes is directly related to the uncontrolled spread of weapons among civilians and the failure of the

 

 

Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to take effective action to confront this phenomenon.  One of the most notable confrontations between families led to the death of 7 and injury of more than 40, including 5 children, during armed clashes between the El-Kafarna and El-Masri families in Beit Hanoun last December.  Armed clashes between Palestinian families have led to the death of 23 people and the injury of dozens more during 2005.

 

These clashes come in the context of the continuing internal security chaos in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in the Gaza Strip.  In addition to armed clashes between rival families, the security chaos has also involved the kidnapping of internationals, including journalists and staff of international organizations, as well as attacks on public institutions.  All of these incidents undermine the rule of law in the OPT.

 

PCHR condemns the use of arms to resolve family problems and calls for the use of dialogue and the law instead.  PCHR:

 

1-        Calls upon the PNA to fulfill its responsibility to preserve law and order and to ensure the security of citizens;

2-        Calls upon the office of the Attorney-General to investigate these incidents and to bring perpetrators to justice;

3-        Strongly condemns any and all attempts to frighten innocent civilians and calls upon the PNA to enforce the rule of law, and to ensure that these incidents are not repeated.

 

 

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