This week two foreign citizens were kidnapped and held for short periods of time, and ten Palestinians were killed or injured in acts of internal violence. In addition, seven Palestinians were abducted by unknown armed men during the past week. These cases illustrate the increasing state of insecurity that is developing in the Gaza Strip.
According to Al Mezan’s fieldworkers, at approximately 3.15pm Monday 30 October 2006, three armed men stopped a taxi and seized Roberto Villa, a 30 year old Spanish national, and Celine Gagne, a French national aged 26; both work with Cooperation for Peace. They were near Al Matahin area in the middle of the Gaza Strip. The kidnappers took Roberto with them and left Celine in the car. At 10:55pm on the same day, he was released.
On Tuesday 24 October 2006, armed men kidnapped the Spanish photographer Emilio Morenatti, aged 37, in front of his residence in Gaza city. He was released a few hours after the kidnapping. The persons behind this kidnapping remain unknown; however, the spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior stated that the Ministry has identified them. Emilio had been working for the Associated Press and living periodically in Gaza for over a year when the kidnapping occurred.
Additionally, seven Palestinians were kidnapped over the week. Six of them were released shortly after the kidnapping whereas the seventh, identified as 44-year-old Riyad Kamil Al Louh, has been held captive since. Al Louh was kidnapped at approximately 3pm on Friday 27 October 2006. Moreover, four Palestinians were murdered and six injured in acts of internal violence over the week. These acts involved intensive use of small arms and throwing grenades at a house.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns all acts of kidnapping and calls for the immediate release of the victims. Such acts manifest, and further undermine, the lack of security and the disrespect of the law in Gaza as well as disturbing the weakening harmony of the Palestinian society.
The Centre, further, believes that the shortcomings in the Palestinian national Authority’s investigation and the maintaining of law and order only, indirectly, encourage such acts. According to the Centre’s observations, similar cases ended with giving in to the kidnappers’ demands or a quick release of the victims, but without effective investigation and the delivery of justice.
Al Mezan thus calls the PNA to act more seriously and orderly and to bear its obligations to ensure security and order, both essential to the enjoyment of all human rights in OPT.