Gunmen storm the Rafah Governorate and the Khan Yunis Municipality

At approximately 10:00 on Wednesday, 22 February 2006, a group of 20 gunmen from the “Al-Yasir Brigades”, affiliated with Fatah, stormed the Rafah Governorate building in protest to the appointment of Zuhdi El-Qedra as the new governor of Rafah. Mr. El-Qedra, who is from Khan Yunis, was appointed to succeed Mr. Majied El-Agha, who was elected as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the Khan Yunis district and represents Fatah. The gunmen requested the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to reconsider the appointment. They demanded that the new governor should be from Rafah. They left the building after one hour.

On Tuesday, another armed group affiliated with Fatah stormed the Khan Yunis municipality building and a garage run by the municipality. PCHR’s initial investigation indicates that at approximately 10:30 on Tuesday, 21 February 2006, an armed group from the “Amr Abu Sitta Battalions” stormed the western municipality garage, located behind the civil defense headquarters in Khan Yunis refugee camp. They took all the keys for the vehicles in the facility, which included sewage trucks, drinking water trucks, hearses and others. The incident took place after the municipality had refused to provide the group with a bulldozer to level an area of land near the old Khan Yunis municipality butcher house, which the group intends to take over and turn into an outpost.

And at approximately 14:30, a group of 10 gunmen from the same group stormed the Khan Yunis municipality building, located near the security forces complex in the city. They ransacked the office of the Mayor and threatened him and other staff members. The gunmen cut off telephone lines, turned over furniture and hurled a computer to the floor. The gunmen demanded that the municipality comply with their demand to provide a bulldozer and threatened to burn the western municipality garage, if their demand is not met by Saturday. It is noted that the garage holds 120 vehicles. In addition, it is noted that the old butcher house in Khan Yunis was emptied after coming under Israeli bombardment several times during the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

PCHR condemns these attacks against public institutions and the threats against the lives of staff members in these institutions. The Centre calls upon the PNA to open a serious investigation into these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.

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