For the third consecutive day, Gaza City has witnessed unjustifiable violent internal fighting, and an atmosphere of tension has spread over Gaza that is not less violent than that which has spread as a result of the offensive that has been launched by Israeli Occupation Forces for nearly a month. Since Monday evening, violence has extended to most areas in the Gaza Strip from the north to the south, and militants have deployed in the streets, at the entrances of towns and near governmental headquarters and security compounds. Militants from Hamas and Fatah movements have used various kinds of weapons and have occupied a number of official buildings belonging to the Palestinian presidency and government. The attacks have even targeted the house and the office of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and the presidential compound. Militants have been more violent than ever before as they have stormed hospitals and forced medical crews out. They even fired inside a hospital and killed a number of persons. Moreover, mutual kidnappings and field executions have been reported. The two movements have even threatened to escalate the situation and extend the fighting to the West Bank. In this atmosphere of terror, approximately 67,000 students have attended the exams of the General Certificate of Education (Tawjihi), in addition to thousands of university students who have attended their final exams. The current situation threatens the overall educational process. PCHR strongly condemns such fighting which is not of the ethics, sacrifices and struggle of the Palestinian people, and warns that it threatens the overall national aspirations and lives of innocent Palestinian civilians, whose daily activities have been paralyzed.
PCHR would like to apologize for not being able to report on many details of this fighting as its staff members have not been able to move freely and its office in Gaza City has been besieged by the exchange of fire. Branch offices have also worked with a limited capacity and under severe challenges. According to information available to PCHR so far, 21 Palestinians have been killed and at least 150 others have been wounded in the past 72 hours.
This press release is an update for the information reported in PCHR’s previous release issued on Monday afternoon, 11 June 2007.
At approximately 16:00 on Monday, an exchange of fire erupted between members of the Executive Force and armed members of the al-Masri clan near Beit Hanoun Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. A member of the Executive Force was killed. Members of the Executive Force pursued members of the al-Masri clan and killed three of them: ‘Eid Mahmoud al-Masri, 51; his son Ibrahim, 21; and his nephew Faraj Fadel al-Masri, 22.
At approximately 16:20, the fighting extended to the vicinity of the house of Jamal ‘Abed Rabbu al-Jedian, 50, Secretary of Fatah movement in the northern Gaza Strip. Abu al-Jedian, his brother Majed, 38, and a member of the Executive Force, Mohammed Mehjez, 24, were killed and at least 50 persons, including two women, were wounded.
Over night, fighting erupted throughout Gaza City, especially in al-Shati refugee camp, al-Maqqousi housing project near security sites. Eight Palestinians, including five civilians, two of whom are women, were killed:
1. Yasser Ghassoub Baker, 25;In addition, 53 persons, mostly civilians, were wounded.
2. Saddam Mohammed Baker, 21;
3. Mazen Sa’di ‘Ajjour, 25;
4. Mohammed Na’im al-Dahdouh, 30;
5. Raya Ahmed Muhsen, 75;
6. Maysaa’ Hasan Muhsen, 15;
7. Dalal Mahmoud Muhsen, 19; and
8. Mousa Mohammed Abu Zaina, 49.
In the early morning on Tuesday, militants stormed the transmission station of Palestine Television in Abu Rahma building in the center of Gaza City. Mutual kidnappings and arsons of houses were reported. The houses of the Palestinian President and Prime Minister were also attacked. In addition, fierce fighting erupted near the house of Maher Miqdad, the spokesman of Fatah movement, in al-Maqqousi housing project.
Also on Tuesday, militants deployed in the streets in the central Gaza Strip. They closed a number of roads and stopped and checked people. A number of Hamas militants also seized a number of sites of the Palestinian National Security Forces. At approximately 10:00, Mohammed Rezeq Safi, 35, a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces, was killed in an exchange of fire near a security site near Gaza Valley. At the same time, Eihab Sa’id Nassar, 19, a member of the Executive Force, was killed in an exchange of fire in Deir al-Balah. In addition, 16 persons were wounded.
In Khan Yunis, at approximately 22:30 on Monday, 11 June 2007, a number of militants traveling in a civilian car kidnapped ‘Amru Nabhan al-Rantissi, 21, a member of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas). His body was found later on Khan Yunis-Rafah road.
At approximately 09:30 on Tuesday, hundreds of members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades deployed in the streets and near sites of security services in Khan Yunis. Later, they called on security men to get out of their sites threatening to shell those sites. They also seized five of those sites and the building of Khan Yunis Governorate. An exchange of fire erupted between those militants and those of Fatah movement in various areas in Khan Yunis. As a result of the exchange of fire, 11 persons were wounded.
In Rafah, at the time of this writing, many militants deployed on Rafah-Khan Yunis road. They are stopping and checking people.
PCHR strongly condemns the bloody internal fighting between Fatah and Hamas movements, and:
1. Calls upon the Palestinian President and Government to fulfill their responsibilities, and to take immediate steps to restore order and security, and to protect civilians from the effects of these disgraceful clashes.
2. Holds the two movements fully responsible for any damage to the educational process, warns of the consequences of the continuation of fighting on Tawjihi students, and stresses that there no justification to sacrifice the educational process and push students into disgraceful fighting and a conflict over authority.
3. Calls for a serious investigation into all these incidents, and for the prosecution of the perpetrators regardless of their identity.
4. Calls for the withdrawal of all forms of militancy from streets, intersections, and residential buildings, including members of security forces and militias, as continued militant presence threatens the lives of innocent civilians.