PCHR strongly condemns the bloody internal fighting between Fatah and Hamas movements in the Gaza Strip, and calls upon the two sides to calm down the situation and resort to dialogue. PCHR also calls upon the Palestinian National Authority to investigate those clashes and bring all those involved to justice whatever their affiliations are.
Violence escalated to the peak in the past two days, especially in Gaza City, as 32 Palestinians were killed and dozens of others wounded. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this latest wave of violence on Sunday, 13 May 2007, has mounted to 38, in addition to dozens of others who have been wounded. The casualties have included several civilians, including women and children.
Armed clashes erupted between militants from both movements in various areas in Gaza City, especially the western part, where headquarters of security services, the presidency and cabinet, and houses of a number of leaders of the two movements are located. Palestinian security services, which are divided between the two movements, were also engaged in those clashes. Hundreds of militants deployed in the streets, some them were in military uniforms and others in militia uniforms, and some of them were masked. They closed dozens of the main and branch roads in the city. Militants from the two sides took positions in civilian populated areas and exchanged fire. They also seized control over a number of high apartment buildings and used them as bases for shooting. The two movements also carried out mutual kidnappings, most of which ended with firing at the hostages after releasing them. The two sides blatantly demonstrated disregard for the lives of civilians, who stayed at homes voluntarily out of concern for their lives. PCHR received information that ambulances were not able to reach areas of clashes on time to evacuate the wounded. These actions violate the principles of international humanitarian law, especially those relevant to the protection of civilians, which raises deep concerns, especially as such violations were recorded in previous clashes too.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, the situation exploded after a leader of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), Ibrahim Suleiman Maniya (Ghanem), 45, was killed by a gunshot to the chest, during an armed clash that erupted at approximately 01:00 on Tuesday, 15 May 2007, between members of the Palestinian National Security Forces and Fatah movement on one side, and those of Hamas on the other side, near al-Mentar (Karni) crossing, east of Gaza City.
Following Maniya’s death, the clashes extended to various areas in Gaza City. At approximately 11:00, a vehicle of the Palestinian National Security Forces came under intense gunfire, when it was traveling on the road linking al-Mentar crossing and Juhor al-Dik village, east of Gaza City. The vehicle lost direction and turned over. Ambulances went to the area and evacuated the bodies of seven members of the Palestinian National Security Forces to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah town. According to medical sources, the victims were hit by gunshots to their heads from close ranges. The victims were later identified as:
1) Hasan Tawfiq Abu Tahoun, 23, from Deir al-Balah;At approximately 21:00 on Wednesday, 15 May 2007, medical sources declared that Karam Baraka Abu Mghassib, 37, a members of the National Security Forces from Deir al-Balah, died from a wound he had sustained on Tuesday near al-Mentar crossing, east of Gaza City.
2) Wissam ‘Abdul Jawad Kassou’, 30, from Gaza City;
3) ‘Aadel Mohammed Abu ‘Amra, 31, from Deir al-Balah;
4) Saif al-Din Salama Abu Erwaish, 28, from al-Zawaida village;
5) Noah ‘Abdul Karim al-Louh, 20, from Nusairat refugee camp;
6) Ahmed Haida ‘Eyada, 25, from Beit Lahia; and
7) Hani Mohammed al-Ghazali, 23, from Gaza City.
Palestinian security sources accused militants from the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas of killing these members of the National Security Forces, but the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades issued a statement denying any relation to the attack, and indicating that medical sources asserted that the gunshots were fired by Israeli Occupation Forces.
At approximately 13:00 also on Tuesday, armed clashes erupted between members of the Preventive Security Service (PSS) and those of Hamas near the PSS headquarter in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City. As a result, Yousef Hussein Mtair al-Akhras, 22, a PSS member, was killed by a gunshot to the chest.
At approximately 13:30 on the same day, unknown militants kidnapped ‘Ali Taha ‘Ali Sa’ad, 25, from Jabalya, when he was near the PSS headquarter in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City. Nearly half an hour later, the militants shot him dead with several gunshots after releasing him near Ansar security compound.
At approximately 14:30 also on Tuesday, the body of Ibrahim Tawfiq Abu Ruq’a, 25, from al-Boreij refugee camp, was brought into Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Abu Ruq’a, a taxi driver, was killed by a gunshot to the head when he was traveling near Ansar security compound where armed clashes were taking place.
At approximately 19:00 also on Tuesday, Mohammed Mustafa Abu Saif, 18, was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head when he was near his house in al-Maqqousi area in the north of Gaza City, as armed clashes took place in the area, where Maher Miqdad, the spokesman of Fatah movement, live. Abu Saif was pronounced dead at midnight.
At approximately 19:30 on the same day, Saleem Shaher Dughmosh, 29, from al-Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City, was killed by a gunshot to the chest, when he was near a brick factory belonging to him in al-Remal neighborhood.
At the same time, militants kidnapped Nahidh Saleh al-Nemer, 46, a member of Hamas, when he was near his house in al-Remal neighborhood in Gaza City. They shot him dead near Haidar ‘Abdul Shafi intersection.
At approximately 22:00, ‘Essam Mohammed al-Jouju, 22, a member of Hamas, was killed by a gunshot to the back fired by militants in al-Wihda Street in the center of Gaza City.
At approximately 05:00 on Wednesday, 16 May 2007, armed clashes erupted near the house of Major General Rasheed Abu Shibak, Commander of Internal Security and a prominent leader of Fatah movement, in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City. Those clashes continued until 07:00, during which four of Abu Shibak’s bodyguards were killed:
1) Mohammed Saleem Abu ‘Amra, 22, from Gaza City, hit by a gunshot to the chest;
2) ‘Abdul Karim ‘Arafat al-Masri, 22, from Beit Hanoun, hit by a gunshot to the chest;
3) ‘Abdullah ‘Ouda Mohammed Sa’adat, 30, from Beit Hanoun, hit by several gunshots to the head, the chest and the abdomen; and
4) Ahmed Yousef Hamada, 26, from al-Mughraqa village, hit by a gunshot to the chest.
In addition, six others were wounded.
On Wednesday morning, residents of al-Nour apartment building opposite to the Islamic University were forced to shelter in the basement due to the intense gunfire exchanged between militants of Hamas and Fatah movements. During those clashes, at approximately 09:00, Hasan Marwan Swaidan, 26, a PSS member from Gaza City, was killed.
At approximately 12:15 also on Wednesday, two security men were killed in armed clashes near the PSS headquarter in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City:
1) Maher Diab Ahmed Radhi, 37, a PSS member, hit by a gunshot to the back; andAt approximately 13:00 also on Wednesday, five members of the Executive Force of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior were killed in armed clashes in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City:
2) Mohammed Ibrahim Hamad, 22, a policeman, hit by several gunshots throughout the body.
1) Hani Mohammed Saleh Qalaja, 34, hit by shrapnel throughout the body;At approximately 14:30 also on Wednesday, armed clashes erupted neat al-Salah apartment building in Mustafa Hafez Street in the south of Gaza City, where a number of leaders of Fatah movement, including Yousef ‘Eissa, Chief of the PSS, live. As a result, fire broke out in one of the floors of the building, but no casualties were reported.
2) Hasan Fayez Juha, 32, hit by shrapnel throughout the body;
3) ‘Abdul Fattah ‘Abdullah Sam’an, 23, hit by several gunshots throughout the body;
4) Mo’men Ahmed al-Dairi, 23, hit by several gunshots throughout the body; and
5) Mohammed Anwar al-Tash, 20, hit by several gunshots throughout the body.
At approximately 19:00 on the same day, Mohammed Ahmed Shihda al-Dalu, 27, a member of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, was killed during armed clashes in ‘Omar al-Mukhtar Street in the center of Gaza City.
At the same time, armed clashes erupted near Shawa and Hussari apartment building, which includes several press offices, in al-Wihda Street in Gaza City, when a number of Hamas militants attempted to seize control over the roof of the building. The clashes extended to the neighboring al-Jawahara apartment building, which also includes a number of press offices and whose roof was controlled by Fatah militants. Several journalists were trapped in their offices, especially offices of al-Jazeera Stellite Channel and Ramattan News Agency, for more than two hours, and their lives were endangered.
Hamas declared a unilateral ceasefire at 20:00 on Wednesday, and invited Fatah movements through the media to initiate dialogue. Nevertheless, armed clashes were resumed between the two sides at approximately 21:30 in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City. As a result, Sa’id Tayseer Abu ‘Amru, 24, a member of the Presidential Guard from al-Shojaeya neighborhood, was killed by a gunshot to the neck.
Also at approximately 21:30 on Wednesday, unknown militants traveling in a civilian car fired at three members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades who were walking near the building of the Municipality of Rafah. As a result, Mohammed ‘Abdullah Hassanain, 29, was killed by a gunshot to the head.
At approximately 00:30 on Thursday, 17 May 2007, armed clashes erupted between militants from Hamas and Fatah movements near the building of the directorate of education in al-Wihda Street in Gaza City. As a result of these clashes, Mahmoud Ramadan al-Bayedh, 23, a member of Hamas from al-Daraj neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, was killed by several gunshots to the abdomen and the feet.
PCHR reiterates its condemnation for these bloody clashes, and:
1) Calls upon the Palestinian National Authority, represented by the President and the government, to immediately take effective measures to restore security and stability in the Gaza Strip, and protect civilians from the dangers posed on them by such bloody and shameful conflict.
2) Calls for conducting effective investigations into such clashes and bring those involved in them, whatever their affiliations area, to justice.
3) Calls for the demilitarization of streets, intersections and populated areas, including the withdrawal of security services and militias, whose continuous presence poses a threat to the lives of innocent civilians.
4) Calls upon all political factions and civil society groups to act to stop such shameful conflict over authority, whose price is paid by every Palestinian and the whole Palestinian cause.
5) Reminds that these clashes coincides with the 59th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (the uprooting of the Palestinian people from their homeland); instead of using this occasion to intensify efforts to end the Israeli occupation and realize the Palestinians’ legitimate rights, the two main political powers in the Palestinian arena are engaged in regrettable fighting, which is in fact a form of self-destruction.