Ref: 107/2006

Date:  03 October 2006

Time: 11:00 GMT

PCHR Condemns the Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

PCHR condemns the violent events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) that have been raging since yesterday. These events have led to the death of 3 Palestinians and the injury of 29 others. These events are a continuation of the violence two day ago in the Gaza Strip, which led to the death of 6 Palestinians and the injury of 115 others. The Centre calls upon the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), represented by the Attorney-General (A-G) to seriously investigate these events, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that in the evening of Monday, 2 October 2006, two civilians were killed and 23 were injured. Most of the injured are civilians; and the injured include 3 critical cases and 7 children. The casualties fell during clashes between Fatah members and the Interior Ministry Executive Force in the Nejma Square in Rafah.

The clashes broke out at approximately 20:00 during demonstration organized by Fatah movement to protest the violent events in the Gaza Strip the day before. Eyewitnesses stated that the clashes broke out when the demonstration came close to an Executive Force patrol near Nejma Square in the Rafah refugee camp. The clashes continued till approximately 2:00 the next day; and automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and grenades were used. The clashes spread to Khirbit El-Adas, Yebna refugee camp, and the vicinity of the Power Distribution Company in Rafah. Sources in Mohammad Yousef El-Najjar Hospital stated that 25 people were admitted to the hospital for injuries sustained during the clashes. Husam Salama Abu Samhadana (30) died of a bullet wound to the chest in the hospital. Ahmad Moussa El-Ghoul (24) was transferred to the European Hospital suffering from a bullet injury to the chest, and died in that hospital. Also, 3 injuries are listed as critical; and there are 7 children among the injured.

Also on Monday, clashes also broke out in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City between members of the Executive Force stationed inside the hospital and mourners in the funeral of Mohammad Mohammad Mohsin, who died a day earlier. As a result Ahmad Khader Mohsin (25) was seriously injured by a bullet in the right hip.

In Jericho, Naser Ghazi El-Ja’fari (41) was killed yesterday morning when members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fired at him inside the restaurant where he was working. Al-Aqsa Martyrs activists were protesting the violence in Gaza, and were trying to force shop owners to close their shops by firing heavily inside them.

In Bethlehem, an armed group closed the outer gates of the offices of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Agriculture in El-Karkafa Quarter and El-Mahd Street in the city. Eyewitnesses stated that the gunmen closed the gates using an oxygen-smelter.

In Nablus, four people were injured yesterday including an activist in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, two bodyguards of the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr. Naser El-Deen El-Sha’er), and a bystander. PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 13:00, El-Sha’er’s bodyguards fired at Rabi Abu Leil (24), an activist in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from Balata refugee camp. He was injured in the shoulder. Afterwards, clashes broke out between the bodyguards of Dr. El-Sha’er and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades activists. Two bodyguards were injured:

         Omar Ismail Dola (24) was injured by a bullet in the leg; and

         Samer Darwaza (25) was seriously injured by a bullet in the shoulder.

A bystander in the area was injured by a bullet in the right foot. The injured bystander is Yehya Izzat Arayshi (19).

Nablus also witnessed other violent incidents and attacks on public property. Gunmen fired at a plumbing equipment store belonging to Abdel Qadir El-Toubasi. A worker inside the store, Ali El-Zubeidi (22), was injured by a bullet in the leg. Gunmen also fired another shop owned by El-Toubasi in the city.

And this morning in Nablus, gunmen fired at the vehicle belonging to Dr. Mohammad El-Soleibi, a lecturer in the College of Sharia in El-Najah University. The vehicle was parked outside his house. In addition, unknown assailants torched a bus belonging to El-Salihin kindergarten. The same group of assailants also torched a bus belonging to the Holy Quran Academy School and Kindergarten.

And in Qalqilya, a number of gunmen torched the vehicle belonging to Adel Zaki Abdel Raziq Majd, which was parked in front of his house in the eastern quarter of Azzoun village east of Qalqilya. The gunmen also fired several bullets at the house.

PCHR strongly condemns the escalating violence in the OPT, especially in the Gaza Strip, and:

         Views that these events are part of the increasing tension between Fatah and Hamas supporters, and the resulting polarization within the security forces. These events are a continuum of the security chaos plaguing the OPT, with the price paid by Palestinian civilians;

         Calls upon all parties to resort to dialogue and the rule of law;

         Calls upon the Attorney-General to seriously investigate these events, and to bring the perpetrators to justice;

         Calls upon the Palestinian National Authority to unite security services under one institutional framework, and to issue clear instructions on the use of firearms and using fire by security forces; and

Calls upon all parties to keep all forms of militancy clear of civilian areas, and to keep civilians and their homes and properties out of any armed confrontation.