Egyptian Diplomat Kidnapped in Gaza

Palestinian security forces search cars at a checkpoint during a search campaign for an Egyptian consul kidnapped by unknown armed group in Gaza February 9, 2006. (MAANnews/Hatem Omar)

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns the kidnapping of the Egyptian diplomat, Husam El-Mousili, in Gaza on 9 February 2006. This crime is another in a series of organized crimes, which have undermined the rule of law in the OPT, particularly since the announcement of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) election results. Similar crimes were carried out prior to the elections but failed to undermine or delay the elections.

PCHR’s initial investigations indicate that on Thursday, 9 February 2006, unidentified gunmen travelling in a “Volkswagen” stopped the car of the Egyptian diplomat, Husam El-Mousili, in Gaza city. They forced him out of the car and took him to an unknown location. The diplomat was on his way to work in the Egyptian Representative Office in Gaza City, near the Ministry of Social Affairs in Thawra Street. The kidnapping took place near the Representative Office and the identity of the kidnappers remains unknown.

This crime is connected to a series of crimes, which have undermined the rule of law in the OPT and have added to the general security chaos that exists, particularly in the Gaza Strip. These crimes have increased since the announcement of the results of the PLC elections, which were held on 25 January 2006. The Centre views these crimes as an organized and intentional attempt to undermine the results of the elections. Furthermore, these crimes are an extension of similar crimes that preceded the elections, with the aim of undermining or delaying them.

The kidnapping coincided with an attack by scores of gunmen against the Ministry of Finance building in Gaza City. At approximately 22:00, fifty gunmen working in the Palestinian security forces demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Finance, to protest against the delay in payment of their salaries. They burned tires during the demonstrations and broke into the building. PCHR has learned that these gunmen were hired to work in the security services 4 months ago but have only received salaries for one month. Their names were not listed in the last payroll list. The gunmen threatened to hold another demonstration on Saturday, 11 February, if their salaries were not paid.

PCHR has observed scores of attacks over the past two weeks. They have included attacks against European diplomatic missions and cultural centres in Gaza City, under the pretext of protesting against the cartoons slandering Prophet Mohammad that were published in European newspapers. The EU mission headquarters in Gaza City was subject to an attack on 1 February, at the hands of gunmen from the “Al-Yasir Brigades,” affiliated with Fatah. The gunmen climbed to the roof of the building, fired into the air, ordered the closure of the building and threatened to kidnap Danish and Norwegian nationals, if their countries did not issue an apology. And on 2 February 2006, a group of gunmen from the “Ahmad Abu El-Riesh Brigades,” affiliated with Fatah, attacked the French Cultural Centre in Gaza City. They smashed a sign at the entrance of the centre and fired into the air. Later that night, unidentified assailants threw a hand grenade at the centre, which also includes a consular section. No damage was reported. And on 4 February 2006, a number of school children threw stones at the EU mission headquarters and the German Cultural Centre in Gaza City.

Also as part of the ongoing escalation of crimes against the rule of law after the elections, civilians have been vandalizing agricultural greenhouses and other property of the “Agricultural Land Development Project”. This project runs the greenhouses in the evacuated Israeli settlements in the southern Gaza Strip. These attacks were carried out under the protection of armed gunmen. According to the PCHR’s investigations, these attacks reached their height on Sunday and Monday (5, 6 February, 2006), when scores of people dismantled a number of greenhouse units in the former settlement of Gan Or. These actions were perpetrated under the protection of Palestinian gunmen.

And on Thursday, 9 February 2006, five civilians were injured in an exchange of fire between members of El-Sheikh Eid family in Awda square in Rafah. The confrontations took place against the backdrop of earlier problems that took place a few months ago, which led to the death of one and the injury of others. Three female school students were injured in the clashes that took place on 9 February 2006.

PCHR condemns the kidnapping of the Egyptian diplomat, and hold the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) fully responsible for the continuation of kidnapping crimes, due to its failure to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice. PCHR calls upon the PNA to take serious and firm action, within the limits of Palestinian Law and International Human Rights Law, against the security chaos and repeated crimes which undermine the rule of law. PCHR calls upon all national and Islamic parties to confront these crimes and condemn them and to work towards establishing the rule of law.

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