19 Palestinians, Including Two Children, Killed and at Least 70 Others Wounded in Shameful Bloody Clashes between Hamas and Fatah Movements
PCHR strongly condemns internal fighting between Hamas and Fatah movements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), especially the Gaza Strip, which has killed 19 persons, including 8 civilian bystanders, and wounded at least 70 others. PCHR calls upon the leaders of the two movements and all other nationalist and Islamic factions to make sincere efforts to contain and stop such regrettable and shameful fighting, go back to dialogue and put higher national interests of the Palestinian people above all narrow partisan interests and political conflict over authority. PCHR stresses that dialogue is the only option, and the current internal fighting is a prescription for self-destruction.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, bloody clashes have renewed between the two sides since Thursday evening, 25 January 2007, when unknown persons detonated an explosive device on the roadside when a vehicle of the Executive Force of the Ministry of Interior (EF)was passing in Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result of the attack, which occurred in a densely-populated area, the vehicle was destroyed and 8 members of the EF and 4 passing persons, including two children, were wounded. Later, Hussam ‘Abdul Malek Mtai, 36, a member of the EF from Jabalya, who was wounded in the attack, was pronounced dead. On Friday, 26 January 2007, another member of the EF, Mousa Taha ‘Asaliya, 18, was also pronounced dead.
At approximately 01:30 on Friday, 26 January 2007, a number of armed members of Hamas and the EF stormed a house belonging to Nabeel Hasan al-Jarjeer, 25, a member of Fatah movement in Jabalya town, accusing him of responsibility for the attack on the EF vehicle. They shot al-Jarjeer dead with a bullet to the head. They also violently beat his brother, 33-year-old Nahedh. He sustained bruises throughout the body.
Soon after, clashes erupted near a house belonging to Sameeh al-Madhoun, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah movement) in Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip. In a later development, al-Madhoun abducted a number of members of Hamas and held them inside his house, which he had already fortified and blocked all roads leading to it with cement blocks and sand barriers. As a result of the exchange of fire, two civilian bystanders, including a girl, were wounded:
1) Saleh Jameel Matar, 28, wounded by a live bullet to the abdomen; and
2) Fatema Nafez Qa’oud, 17, wounded by a live bullet to the left hand.
At approximately 10:30 also on Friday, a number of gunmen opened fire at a vehicle belonging to Hamas, which was calling through loudspeakers for organizing a demonstration in Jabalya town. The driver, Ra’ed Rjab Subeh, 27, from Beit Lahia, who is a member of Hamas, was seriously wounded by a live bullet to the chest. He was later pronounced dead. Another person who was traveling in the vehicle, 23-year-old Younis Rabee’ Abu Jabal, sustained injuries and bruises throughout the body as the vehicle turned over when it was fired at.
Clashes and mutual kidnappings between members of Hamas and Fatah movements continued. An armed group of Hamas chased a member of Fatah movement, 20-year-old Shadi Saleh Quddas, in Beit Lahia town and he fled to a police station. The armed group attempted to kidnap him from the police station, but things were settled. A police officer, 30-year-old Yousef Ahmed Hawila, was wounded by a bullet to the left foot unleashed unintentionally from his colleague’s gun.
At approximately 13:50 also on Friday, armed members of ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) and the EF, besieged the house of Mansour Shalayel, a member of Fatah movement, in Jabalya refugee camp, accusing him of responsibility for the aforementioned attack on the vehicle that was calling for organizing a demonstration for Hamas. Violent clashes took place between dozens of gunmen who deployed around the house on one side and Shalayel and some gunmen who were inside the house on the other side. As a result of those clashes, two civilian bystanders were killed:
1) Fu’ad ‘Abdul Mahdi al-Khaldi, 17, hit by several live bullets to the head and the chest; and
2) Ziad Isma’il Abi Zaid, 25, hit by a live bullet to the chest.
At approximately 21:30 on Friday, the bodies of 3 persons who were killed in clashes near Shalayel’s house were brought to Kamal ‘Edwan Hospitalin Beit Lahia town. Two of them were identified as Ahmed Saleh Salah, 20, and Sharaf Salama Abu Wadi, 22, both are members of the EF. They were hit by several gunshots throughout the body. The third person has not been identified.
At approximately 22:00, several units of the Palestinian National Security Forces and the Naval Police moved from the site of the Third Brigade, east of Jabalya refugee camp, towards the area of clashes near Shalayel’s house and were able to lift the siege imposed on the house. They were also able to take shalayel and his family out of the house, which had been under heavy gunfire.
At approximately 00:30 on Saturday, 27 January 2007, Mohammed Ghaleb al-Skani, 25, a member of the National Security Forces from Gaza City, was killed by live bullet to the back from an unknown source, when he was on duty at the southern entrance of Beit Hanoun town. It is worth noting that several areas in the Gaza Strip witnessed armed clashes at the time.
The number of persons wounded in the bloody clashes in the northern Gaza Strip was 57, including a number of bystanders.
The clashes in the northern Gaza Strip extended to Gaza City. At approximately 15:00 on Friday, Brigadier Jihad ‘Abdul Ra’ouf Srhan, 58, of the National Security Forces, was wounded by a bullet to the right leg. Sarhan told PCHR that he was traveling in his car with his bodyguard on Salah al-Din road, east of Gaza City, when a number of masked gunmen intercepted the car and fired at him as he refused to obey their order for him to get out of the car.
At approximately 18:20 also on Friday, a number of unknown gunmen broke into al-Hedaya Hospital in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the southwest of Gaza City, and opened fire at all those who were in the mosque listening to a preach. Three persons were killed:
1) Eihab Suleiman Hammouda, 22;
2) Mas’oud Jamal Shamallakh, 22; and
3) Zuhair Mahmoud al-Mansi, 40, a prominent leader of Hamas.
Four other persons were wounded:
1) Sa’id Jamal Shamallakh, 20, wounded by several bullets to the legs;
2) Muneer Qassem al-Meenawi, 27, wounded by a bullet to the right side;
3) Mo’taz Jamal Jamal Abu Ras, 20, wounded by two bullets to the right leg and the left thigh; and
4) Mohammed Mansour Sa’da, 17, wounded by several bullets to the legs.
The gunmen also kidnapped Mohammed al-Hussein al-Berniya, 24.
At approximately 21:30, armed clashes erupted between members of the Preventive Security Service (PSS) and those of the EF near the headquarters of the PSS in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. A civilian bystander, 20-year-old Ra’fat Daoud Toutah, was killed by a gunshot to the head.
At approximately 22:00 on the same day, unknown persons fired a projectile at the house of Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahhar, Palestinian Foreign Minister, in al-Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City. At approximately 22:20, unknown persons fired two projectiles at the house of Rasheed Abu Shibak, Director-General of the Internal Security Service and former commander of the PSS, in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. Approximately 10 minutes later, unknown persons launched 3 mortars at the headquarters of the PSS in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. No casualties were reported as a result of the three attacks.
At approximately 23:15 on Friday, unknown gunmen shot dead Lieutenant Colonel, Kamal Hasan Khalil, for the Special Security Bureau, when was traveling in his car near al-Samer intersection in the center of Gaza City.
At approximately 00:30 on Saturday, 27 January 2007, armed clashes erupted again between members of the PSS and those of the EF in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood. A member of the EF, 22-year-old Hammam Taha al-Sha’er, was killed, and 3 members of the PSS were wounded.
At approximately 11:00 also on Saturday, medical sources at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, declared that Mahmoud Khalil al-Khattat, 18, died from a wound he had sustained at 08:30. Al-Khattat was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head during armed clashes between members of the National Security Force and those of Hamas in al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.
Clashes in the Gaza Strip had their echo in the West Bank. At approximately 15:30 on Friday, an armed group of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah movement), kidnapped 7 children and their teacher of al-Qastal Scout in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, when they were in Kufor Qallil village, southeast of the city. Members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade declared in a media release that the abducted persons are members of the EF and threatened to kill them if the siege imposed on Shalayel’s house in the Gaza Strip was not lifted. The abducted persons were released on Saturday morning. At approximately 22:30 on Friday, a number of masked gunmen stormed a house belonging to ‘Aamer ‘Omar Sha’bello, 24, in al-Dahia area in Nablus. They asked him about his brother, who studies abroad. They then kidnapped him.
In Khan Yunis, at approximately 16:30 on Friday, 2.5-year-old Yahia Ibrahim Madhi, was killed by mistake by a bullet to the head. According to his father, the child was playing near the family home when members of the Popular Army, who guard areas on which Israeli settlement had stood in the past, fired at 4 vehicles of security forces, thinking that the vehicles were belonging to the EF.
PCHR strongly condemns bloody internal fighting, and:
1. Reminds all nationalist and Islamic factions of their role and duty to serve the interests of the Palestinian people and protect civilians, rather than being a burden that threatens the safety and security of people.
2. Calls upon the two fighting parties to stop fighting and immediately go back to dialogue to reach a national agreement, and believes that such shameful fighting emphasizes the urgent need for dialogue.
3. Expresses regret for the current Palestinian internal situation, one year following the parliamentary election which were highly praised by the world and constituted a positive step in the process of peaceful transition of authority in the past two years.
4. Calls for the establishment of a judicial investigation committee to investigate all incidents in the past weeks and bring all those engaged in them to justice.
5. Calls for reform in Palestinian security services and restructure them on professional foundations to serve as law enforcement forces that have the duty of protecting the safety and security of people, and to ensure that they will never be politicized or engage in any partisan conflicts.
6. Reminds that the only party interested in the continuation of lawlessness and internal fighting in the OPT is Israel, which persistently continues to reinforce its occupation of the OPT through settlement expansion, land confiscation, the construction of the Annexation Wall and create irreversible facts on the ground that will ensure the annexation of most of the OPT and undermine any possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian state.