The past two days witnessed more deterioration of the security situation in the Gaza Strip indicating a crisis within the Palestinian community. The crisis has come to the surface following several cases of kidnapping of Palestinian security commanders and international citizens by armed groups on Friday 16 July 2004 in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Despite President Arafat actions to unify the different Palestinian security apparatuses and proceed to changes in the security and police command, an eruption of the crisis is still imminent. Accordingly, the Palestinian National Security Council took the decision to impose a state of emergency in the Palestinian Territory. Demonstrations renouncing the new appointments in the security command, and attacks against security installations by armed men continued yesterday, 17 July 2004.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern regarding the recent acts of kidnapping, which constitute serious infringements to the law. This occurs in a context of increasing dissatisfaction of the Palestinian community since the end of the year 2003 regarding the lack of rule of law .The Center is concerned by the recurrent situations in which the law is not appropriately enforced and that the real reasons behind this problem are not adequately addressed. Based on its sincere interest and mandate to protect human rights, rule of law and the security of Palestinian citizens, Al Mezan calls on the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to perform its responsibilities of keeping security and safety of Palestinian and foreign citizens in the OPT, especially under the current situation where citizens are exposed to severe violations by IOF and the increasing levels of poverty and unemployment.
In this context, Al Mezan calls upon the PNA to ensure respect and implementation of the separation of powers in the PNA, including allowing for the essential and effective role of the PLC and executing the judiciary rulings; Open investigations on cases of corruption, both financial and administrative, or take action on the cases previously opened by the PLC, and bring those who breached the law to justice. This should be part of effectuating the Reform Program, which was approved by the PLC and accepted by large sectors of the Palestinian community; Ensure transparency in the performance of the executive branch and the PLC when dealing with public issues. This includes broadcasting the sessions of the PLC; Initiate a national dialogue involving Palestinian political parties and civil society organizations in a view to restructure the PNA to overcome the current crisis. This includes combating the illegal presence and use of small arms, and using force to impose personal agendas against the interests and human rights of Palestinian citizens. A new approach of public participation in decision-making is an essential element in any reform program; Assert the principle of equality under the law, as a first step to ensure respect for the law. The PNA should not ignore infringements of law and has the responsibility to enforce it.
Al Mezan reasserts the PNA’s responsibility to ensure enforcement of the law and calls upon the Authority to take the necessary steps to resolve the current serious situation, and to take genuine steps towards reform. The Center also calls upon the Palestinian political parties and civil society to consider national interest before anything else and to coordinate their efforts to help end this serious crisis, which could lead to devastating consequences if it continues.