Gaza clashes renew

Clashes erupted between Mahmoud Abbas’ security forces and Hamas activists last week. It was renewed on Tuesday between Hamas and Fatah militants. (Ronald de Hommel)

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is deeply concerned at the renewal of clashes between members of Hamas and the PNA Security Forces.  These clashes took place this morning where several people have been injured and a number of buildings set on fire. PCHR calls on both parties to immediately halt the use of force and to create the space for dialogue and discussion. PCHR continues to condemn any attempt to terrify civilians and to turn their residential areas into areas of conflict.

According to PCHR investigation at approximately 0300 early on Tuesday, July the 19th troops from the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces attempted to arrest Ibrahim al Bayari a member of the Eiz al Din al Qassam Brigades (the military wing of the Hamas movement).  The attempted arrest took place near his house in Jabalya Refugee Camp.  Al Bayari managed to escape in his car and security forces chased him and fired at the vehicle.  One of al Bayari’s associates was injured during the pursuit as a result of the shooting – he was taken to al Awda hospital in Tel al Zatar, to the north west of Jabalya Refugee Camp. The person who was injured can not be identified as he was removed by Qassam  Brigades from the hospital immediately after his treatment was finished.  In the aftermath of this incident some unknown individuals set fire to the car belonging to Ibrahim al Bayani. 

Dozens of militants marched through Jabalya Refugee Camp, through Tel al Zatar, and in the area near the hospital.  Unknown persons also set fire to the care of Adel Jumma, a local Fatah activist, in Jabalya Refugee Camp.  This entire incident took place within a very short space of time.

Forty-five minutes later a vehicle belonging to the Preventive Security forces with 5 security members in the car headed towards the hospital (al Awda) in order to arrest the injured Hamas member.  Hamas activists who were surrounding the hospital shot at the vehicle and clashes erupted between the two sides.  Four members of the Preventive Security were injured: Shaadi Mohammad Azzam, 24, injured by shrapnel; Ahmed Sha’id, 23, injured by shrapnel; Hatim al Askar, 38, shot in the foot; Khalil Hassan Abu Dahir, 23, shot in the leg.

Two passers-by were injured during the incident: Wa’il Ahmad Hilu, 24, a policeman who was not involved in the clashes, injured by a bullet to the foot and shrapnel in the chest; Hassan Awda, 20, injured by shrapnel in the hand.

The clashes in the vicinity of the hospital continued for almost an hour.  During this time Hamas militants fired two missiles against a car. 

According to information gathered by PCHR the passengers fled.  During this same period one of the members of the Preventative Security Forces, Shaadi Azzam, surrendered to the militants.  The militants tried to take his weapon and he refused – the militants then shot him in the foot.  A 65 year old uninvolved resident, Mohamad Salman Salman, was also shot while trying to intervene to calm the general situation down.  Two other members of Hamas were injured and remain unidentified.  Tel al Zatar was swarmed by dozens of armed militants – many of them possessing missiles – they established checkpoints and mined them to cement control over major junctions and roads.

At around 11.30 militants from al Qassam ordered a taxi, driven by Tariq Mohammad al Taluli, 23 years old, to stop.  They ordered him to get out and to allow them to search the car.  He refused to and began to argue with the militants.  At the same time a member of the militant group, from the other side of the street, fired at al Taluli and he received minor head injuries.  Another civilian who was standing in front of his house,  Maher al Umari (32 years old) was shot in the foot.  By noon militants from Hamas de-mined the area and proceeded to retreat.  The area became relatively calm.

In a related development a group of unknown people set fire to three institutions which it is claimed belong to Hamas in Gaza City.  At around 0030 on Tuesday the of July a group of unknown masked people set fire to an electricity generator in al Rantissi Press house in al Nasser neighbourhood in Gaza City.  They then fired into the air and left. 

At around 0300 unidentified people in three vehicles, believed to be from the same group of individuals, attacked Abu Sumra tower, a residential building in the northern part of Gaza City and set fire to the Headquarters to the Arab Centre for Research and Study, which is also believed to be affiliated with Hamas.  A fire-bomb was also thrown at Dar al Arqam Press House in the centre of Gaza City.  No damage was reported.  Also during the morning unknown armed people fired at two people while driving their car near Shifa hospital (also in the centre of Gaza City), while driving their car.  The two, members of the Preventative Security, were both injured in a variety of parts of the body: Mohammad al Diqs, 19 and Rami Khamis AbdulAziz, 23.

These clashes constitute a continuation of the recent clashes which left 3 children dead and at least 50 people injured.  PCHR strongly condemns these clashes and reiterates the call for a complete cessation of violence between both sides.  PCHR calls on all political factions, national and Islamic, to intervene to stop the escalation.

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