Former intelligence officer tortured, killed in Gaza

At approximately 9:00am on 15 April 2008, the family of Sami Khatab was informed by the police that his body was found on the ground about 700 meters north of Palestinian International University and about 200 meters east of the coastal road in Gaza City. Paramedics from Shuhda’a al-Aqsa Hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah were summoned to the area by the police after the body was found.

According to Al Mezan’s preliminary investigations, at approximately 9:00pm on 13 April 2008, there were three cars heading to a small clothing store. Khatab owned the store, which is located in the Hikir al-Jami’ area in Deir al-Balah. One of the cars stopped about 100 meters from the store, while the other two approached it. Two armed men came out of the cars, one masked and another in civilian dress, and took Khatab to one of the cars. They then left the scene. It is noteworthy that 35-year-old Khatab is married and has six children. He was a captain in the Palestinian National Authority’s General Intelligence.

Khatab’s family called Al Mezan’s lawyer and informed him with the news that Khatab was found. The Center’s lawyer called internal security in the deposed government and inquired about Khatab. He was told that they did not arrest Khatab and did not have any information regarding this incident. Immediately, the lawyer, accompanied by one of Al Mezan’s field workers, headed to the morgue in al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to view the body and look for signs of torture. At first glance, obvious signs of torture, including black-and-blue marks, were found all over his body. Bruises and abrasions were found on his upper and middle back, elbows, forehead and the area from the top of his buttocks to the backs of his thighs. There were clear signs that his wrists and ankles had been tightly bound.

Al Mezan condemns strongly the torture, cruel treatment and murder of Khatab. The Center calls for the deposed government, as it is responsible for the protection of the lives and property of civilians in Gaza, to open a serious investigation into the incident. The findings of the investigation, along with the identification of the perpetrators, must be made public for justice to be achieved.

The Center emphasizes that in order to achieve justice the rule of law must be applied rightfully to all incidents that lead to the killing of civilians. Without taking such actions, justice and the rule of law will continue to be undermined, and human rights will continue to be violated.

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