Eight killed, including child, in Fateh-Hamas clashes in Gaza Strip

Masked gunmen from Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades force shopkeepers to close their stores and observe a strike in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 2 October 2006. The strike was declared after the previous day’s deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip between Fateh and Hamas. (MaanImages)

Eight Palestinians, including a child, and at least 115 others were injured in bloody incidents that included armed clashes in Gaza City on Sunday, 1 October 2006. PCHR strongly condemns these incidents, which extended to other areas throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and calls upon the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), represented by the Attorney-General to investigate these incidents and bring those found responsible for them to justice.

These clashes came in the context of increasing tension and mutual violence between Hamas and Fatah movements, especially as efforts to reach an agreement between the two sides and form a national unity government failed. Soon after, protests organized by public employees against the Hamas-led government demanding their salaries escalated when members of Palestinian security services, which are under control of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, joined the protests.

The clashes erupted first in Khan Yunis between members of services and members of the Executive Force of the Ministry of Interior. Soon, these clashes extended to Gaza City. Various areas in the city witnessed armed clashes between the two sides. In the evening, clashes broke out in al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip between supporters of Hamas and Fatah movements. As a result of all of these clashes, six Palestinians, including a child, were killed, and at least 115 others, mostly civilian, were injured.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 09:30 on Sunday, 1 October 2006, armed clashes broke out between members of security services and the Executive Force of the Ministry of Interior at Bani Suhaila intersection, east of Khan Yunis. As a result, 20 persons, including four children and seven of the clashing security men, were injured.

These clashes extended to several areas in Gaza City. As a result, seven persons, including three civilians, were killed and 58 others, including 23 civilians, were injured. The clashes were accompanied by attacks on publics institutions, including ministries. Demonstrators set fire to the buildings of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Civil Affairs in Gaza City. Armed persons also fired at the Palestinian Legislative Councils. Additionally, demonstrators attacked a branch of Bank of Palestine in al-Nasser neighborhood in Gaza City.

Armed clashes erupted between members of the Executive Force and those of the Preventive Security Services near a house belonging to Safwat Rahim, and officer of the Preventive Security Service, in Sheikh Radwan. A civilian bystander, 36-year-old ‘Alaa’ Tayseer Jaras, was killed, and 17 persons, mostly security men, were injured.

Later, clashes erupted in the Unknown Soldier area in the center of Gaza City. As a result, 15-year-old Hussam Maher Abu al-Hatal, was killed when he was on his way back home from school. In addition, 33 other persons were injured, including 34-year-old Jamal Ahmed al-Sheikh (Abu Nahel), a camera man of al-Arabiya Satellite Channel, who was injured in the feet. In the afternoon, two of the injured died from their injuries: Ramadan Mohammed Ramadan, 24, a member of the Presidential Gurad; and Mohammed Kamal al-Afghani, 23, a civilian bystander. At approximately 16:30, Mohammed Mohammed Mohsen, 21, a member of the Preventive Security Service, was killed, and eight other security men were injured in clashes in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the southwest of Gaza City. In the same area, a number of members of the Palestinian Military Intelligence fired at a number of members of the al-Dairi family, killing Rateb Tawfiq al-Dairi, 45. Later, a number of gunmen attacked a site of the Military Intelligence in Tal al-Hawa, and fired at security men who were in the site, killing Mohammed Abu Shammala, 25.

And in Nusairat refugee camp, Fatah supporters organized a popular demonstration against the regrettable events in Gaza and Khan Yunis. The demonstration headed towards Salah El-Deen Street and then to the nearby al-Boreij refugee camp. When the demonstration passed in front of the Hamas leader Mohammad Taha in al-Boreij refugee camp on the way back to Nusairat, someone threw a hand grenade among the demonstrators. A number of persons were injured. Afterwards, armed clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas supporters. These clashes resulted in the death of Ashraf Abdo Abu Dalal, 31, from Nusairat refugee camp. In addition, 37 others were injured, including five seriously injured and 12 children.

The violence spread to the West Bank, in Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, and Jericho. Tens of demonstrators, including some armed persons, attacked several public buildings and Hamas institutions.

In Ramallah, tens of demonstrators burned tires before heading to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) building and Palestinian Government building in the city. Eyewitnesses reported that gunmen fired at the PLC building and then headed to the nearby government building. They broke into the building, destroyed windows and furniture, and threw files and equipment into the street. They also set fire inside some rooms. The security forces charged with protecting the building intervened only after 30 minutes. The demonstrators then headed to the nearby Ministry of Education building; but the security guards prevented them from breaking in. They burned two of the Ministry’s cars. The demonstrators then broke into the “Change and Reform” pro-Hamas party office in El-Isra Building. They ransacked the office belongings. In addition, gunmen attacked the house of the Assistant Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Tamer El-Birawi, in the city of El-Bireh. They kidnapped him; but he was released later.

In Hebron, tens of demonstrators attacked the “Change and Reform” party offices in Ein Sarah area in the city. They ransacked the furniture and equipment, throwing it in the street and setting fire to it.

In Nablus, the principal and guard of the Islamic Secondary School were injured in an armed attack on the school and on other Islamic institutions in El-Dahia area and in Balata refugee camp. Furthermore, the house of Deputy Prime Minister, Naser El-Deen al-Shaer in al-Makhfeya area in Nablus came under fire. The Deputy Prime Minister was inside the house at the time; and no injuries were reported.

In Jericho, tens of demonstrators attacked the “Change and Reform” party offices in the city, and set fire to them.

PCHR strongly condemns the escalating bloody events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (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 being 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.

    The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.