Along the Lines of the Bloodiest Israeli Incursions

Palestinian children demonstrate in Gaza city as they protest against the internal fighting between rival factions, January 29, 2007. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

29 Palestinians Killed and more than 200 Injured in Renewed Internal Clashes

PCHR strongly condemns the bloody events over the past three days, the worst of their kind. These tragic events left 29 dead, including 7 civilians (incl. 3 women and 3 children), and more than 200 injured, half of them innocent civilians. The Centre welcomes reaching another ceasefire between Hamas and Fatah under Egyptian sponsorship Saturday evening. However, there is concern over the continued state of tension, military deployment, sporadic gunfire, and roadblocks in Gaza City.

Since the afternoon of Thursday, 1 February 2007, armed clashes resumed between Fatah and Hamas militias and security forces split in allegiance to both parties. Thousands of gunmen and security personnel armed with machine guns and other weaponry seen for the first time in Gaza deployed in streets, intersections, and on roof tops. Both sides exchanged armed clashes, sniping, and shelling. This serious escalation included various flagrant violations of human rights and international law by gunmen and security officers from both sides. PCHR’s preliminary investigation in tens of incidents show disregard for civilian lives by the conflicting parties, including the use of civilian installations, especially residential buildings, in fighting operations. Gunmen from both sides took up positions on the roofs of high residential buildings and at their entrances. In addition, they erected barricades in densely populated areas. These military positions were used in armed clashes, which increased the threat to civilian lives. In addition, the escalation included mutual attacks on civilian institutions including universities and media organizations. A state of fear overtook civilians, who did not go out of their houses. In addition, transportation vehicles did not function, with a state of near curfew in Gaza City specifically and throughout the Gaza Strip.

PCHR condemns the bloody clashes, and calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities, respecting the ceasefire agreements, and resorting to dialogue. The Centre stresses the fact that even at times of conflict such as these clashes the opposing parties do not have a free reign in their actions. They have a key responsibility to ensure the safety of civilian lives, and protecting them from harm.

Clashes between both sides renewed since the afternoon of Thursday, 1 February 2007, after armed members of Hamas and the Executive Force intercepted a convoy of trucks for the Presidential Guard moving from the south to the north of the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Executive Force members commandeered two trucks, and confiscated them claiming they carry weapons. The Egyptian Security Delegation and Presidential Guard denied the allegations. Fierce clashes erupted in this incident between both sides, resulting in the death of 4 members of the Presidential Guard and National Security Forces:

  • Ibrahim Mohammad Khattab (50) from Beit Hanoun;
  • Murad Ibrahim El-Talla’ (24) from Nuseirat;
  • Hazem Jamil El-Harazin (23) from Gaza City; and
  • Arafat El-Mushallah (24) from Gaza City
    Thirty-four others were injured, including 14 civilians (among them 7 children). One of the injured was seriously injured in the abdomen, and died of her wounds the next day. The woman killed is Maha Ahmad Abu Shammala (41) from El-Bureij refugee camp.

    As a result, the ceasefire drafted under Egyptian sponsorship on 30 January 2007 collapsed. Fierce clashes erupted in different areas of the Gaza Strip, mainly in the governorates of Gaza and the North. The most notable events were:

    At approximately 15:30 on Thursday, members of the Executive Force and Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions attacked a compound for Military Intelligence near Tal El-Za’tar Quarter east of Jabalia refugee camp. Twenty-one members of Military Intelligence were injured. The attackers seized the compound and burned it. Two hours later, one of the injured died of his wounds. The identity of the killed is Osama Tareq El-Shamali (24) from Beit Lahia.

    At approximately 17:00 fierce clashes broke out between members of the National Security Forces and the Executive Force near Abbas Police Station inOmar Mukhtar Street in Gaza City. The clashes spread to the Governmental Complex in Tal El-Hawa Quarter and the vicinity of the Islamic University. Gunmen from both sides took up positions on the roofs of the Governmental Complex, the University, and residential buildings. They clashed using light arms and shells. Two members of the Presidential Guard were killed:

  • Mohammad Ibrahim El-Deiri (22) from Gaza; and
  • Mousa El-Sawalhi (25)
    Civilian houses in the area came under fire. This included the house of Hanan El-Jerjawi (48). She was taken to Shifa Hospital, where she died of a heart attack. Other civilians were injured, many of them seriously. There were 7 children among the injured. Two of the children died of their wounds the next day:
  • Walid Nahed Habboush (7); and
  • Mahmoud Maher El-Dahdouh (16).

    At approximately 22:00, fierce clashes erupted between both sides near a Presidential Guard compound west of Gaza. Nine civilians were injured. One of the injured was a child who died of his wounds in Shifa Hospital. The child’s identity is Mohammad Anan Baker (17). He was injured by several bullets in the lower body.

    At approximately 23:30, the Presidential Guard stormed the Islamic University, and exchanged gunfire and shells with the opposing party. Fire broke out in the laboratories building in the northwest part of the university.

    At approximately 2:30 on Friday, 2 February 2007, the Executive Force and Izzedeen El-Qassam Brigades conducted a series of raids on a number of security forces compounds in the north of the Gaza Strip. The fiercest of the attacks came against during the siege of the General Intelligence compound, near the Police Station in the center of Jabalia refugee camp. Fierce clashes continued till 4:00, and ended when the Executive Force took the General Intelligence compound and Police station. The clashes resulted in the death of Colonel Abdel Qadir S’leem (55 from Gaza), the commander of the compound. Security sources stated that he was executed after surrendering to the Executive Force. Two members of the Executive Force were killed:

  • Mohammad Abdel Hai El-Ajrami (24) from Jabalia who was killed by bullets throughout the body; and
  • Tariq Mustafa Abdel Aziz (34) from Beit Lahia. His body was dismembered by a shell.

    Simultaneously, the Executive Force and Izzedeen El-Qassam Brigades attacked the Preventive Security Apparatus compound in Beit Lahia. Clashed continued till 8:00 in the morning, and ended with the attackers controlling the compound. A Preventive Security operative was killed by a bullet in the head. His identity is Medhat Abdel Qadir Thaher (21) from Beit Lahia. Other defenders were injured, some of them seriously.

    Clashes in the vicinity of the house of Samih El-Madoun, a Fatah activist, in the Beit Lahia Project Street continued till 9:30 in the morning. A young woman, Rana Zeyad Theyab (25), living in the area was killed by a bullet to the head.

    At approximately 6:00, Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions gunmen stormed the Palestine Labor Union offices in Saftawi Street, west of Jabalia. They destroyed the entrance with an explosive charge. The moved through the building till reaching Palestine Labor Voice radio station in the 4th floor. They forced the workers out of the building at gunpoint. Then they took the broadcasting equipment and computers. They also ransacked furniture and assets inside.

    And in Gaza City, clashes broke out at approximately 7:00 on Friday, 2 February 2007, around the Police Academy (Jawazat). Shells were fired at the academy. Four members of the civilian police were injured by shrapnel and bullets. In addition, a paramedic was seriously injured by a bullet in the head: Na’el Taysir El-Adan (23), as he was tending the wounded.

    Simultaneously, fierce clashes erupted between the Executive Force and Police Intervention compound near Yarmouk stadium in Gaza City. A Policeman was killed by a bullet to the chest: Munthir Yunis Shabet (35) from Gaza City. Five other policemen were injured. The Executive Force controlled the compound and confiscated equipment, transporting them in trucks.

    At approximately 11:00 the Executive Force attacked a Presidential Guard training compound (Qureish compound) in Sheikh Ejleen area, south of GazaCity. Fierce clashes broke out between both sides. Four trainees were killed:

  • Ramzi Nahed Abu Amsha (22);
  • Mohammad Suliman Bashir (23);
  • Mo’min Abdel Naser Weshah (21); and
  • Hatem Abdallah Shehab (20).
    Six trainees were injured; and two of them died of their wounds the next day:
  • Azmi Waheb El-Wadeyya (21); and
  • Abdel Hamid Faris Madi (21).

    At approximately 12:30 clashes resumed around the Islamic University, resulting in the death of two security officers and a civilian. The identity of those killed is:

  • Mahmoud Rafat El-Weheidi (20), a civilian bystander;
  • Mahmoud Issa Rajab (19) a Presidential Guard member; and
  • Khaled Mohammad El-Mash’harawi (37) a General Intelligence Operative.
    Fires broke out inside the university.

    At approximately 15:00, unknown gunmen attacked Al-Quds Open University in Naser Street in Gaza City. They burned the university buildings.

    At approximately 20:00, the Egyptian security delegation convoy came under fire from unknown gunmen near Abbas police station in Gaza City. No injuries were reported.

    In Khan Yunis, fierce clashes broke out at 13:30 on Friday, 2 February 2007, when unknown gunmen kidnapped 4 Fatah activists traveling in a car onSalah El-Deen Street in the city. The clashes spread to the towns east of Khan Yunis, and continued till 16:30 in the afternoon. A member of the Executive Force, Ayman Hasan El-Najjar (24), was killed by a bullet to the abdomen. Eight gunmen from both sides and bystanders were injured.

    Following these clashes, members of the Executive Force and Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions stormed two residential houses of Fatah activists in Bani Suheila. The forced the residents out of them, and detonated explosives inside one, and burned the other.

    At approximately 1:30 on Saturday, 3 February 2007, unknown gunmen burned the offices of the Students’ Union at Al-Aqsa Open University branch in Rafah. The structure was partially damaged.

    At approximately 16:00 on Saturday, clashes broke out between both sides around Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The clashes continued for more than 90 minutes, and resulted in the injury of a child bystander: Zohdi Jamal El-Ghoul (17). He was injured by a bullet to the leg.

    At approximately 20:00 in the evening of the same day, a member of the Executive Force was seriously injured by a bullet to the head in renewed clashes around Shifa Hospital. The injured is Hasan Abdel Qadir Seyam (23).

    At approximately unknown gunmen fired at National Security Forces deployed near the Palestinian Aviation Company on Jamal Abdel Naser Street in GazaCity. One force member was killed: Eyad Hussein Abu El-Kheir (24). He was hit by bullets to the head and neck.

    At approximately 21:00, a Fatah activist was hit by a bullet in the left leg. Masked gunmen fired at him in Ma’an area in Khan Yunis.

    At approximately 23:15, shells were fired at the Presidential Guard compound (Landing Pad) in Tal El-Hawa Quarter in Gaza City.

    Despite another ceasefire yesterday evening, sporadic clashes continue throughout the Gaza Strip. In addition, the presence of gunmen and security personnel persists on streets, intersections, and roof tops. A number of streets and intersections remain closed, especially in Gaza City.

    PCHR strongly condemns internal fighting, and:

  • Calls upon all parties to stop all attacks and clashes, and to immediately respect the ceasefire agreement fully, including the withdrawal of all forms of militancy from streets and residential areas;
  • Views dialogue as the only way out of the current political impasse, and the only way to stop the state of internal fighting in which the people as a whole are paying a heavy price. The infighting will lead to political obscurity and self destruction;
  • Calls upon all parties to preserve the lives of Palestinian civilians under all circumstances, and to refrain from using civilian installations, especially residential ones, in combat operations; and
  • Calls upon the Presidency and Government to fulfill their responsibilities towards the populace, and reminds them that the Israeli occupation is the only party that benefits from internal fighting.

    Related Links

  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)