PCHR expresses concern regarding an incident that took place in Gaza city this morning, Wednesday 17 March 2003, in which one civilian was shot dead, and 21 others were injured. According to PCHR’s preliminary investigation, at around 07:50 this morning, Palestinian civil police requested a civilian car to stop on Al Jalaa Street close to the western entrance of the Palestinian security head quarters, Suraya, in central Gaza, in an apparent routine police check of vehicle licenses and registration.
The driver of the vehicle refused to present his identification and vehicle documentation. A quarrel ensued between the driver and the police officer. The driver exited his car and opened fire with a pistol into the air.
The police officer retreated and members of the Military Intelligence who were guarding the nearby entrance of Suraya opened fire towards the car but did not cause any injuries. The driver retreated to avoid the shots, pulled out a hand grenade, threatening to throw it at the security officers. He was seen making a call on his mobile phone as he was threatening to use the grenade. Within minutes, a group of armed Palestinians arrived at the scene and a gun battle ensued between them and members of the Palestinian security services, including Military Intelligence and the police. During the clashes a grenade was thrown towards security officers at the scene, causing a number of injuries.
Abed Faeq Al Amasi, 29, from Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza city, was driving along Al-Jalaa street as the incident occured. As he was driving he was hit with one bullet in the head. He was evacuated to Shifa Hospital in Gaza city where he was later pronounced dead. Medical sources also reported that 21 other individuals were injured, including a number injured by shrapnel from a hand grenade. 20 of those injured were members of the Palestinian security services.
PCHR was informed that Palestinian Military Intelligence later detained three armed Palestinians in relation to this mornings incident and two vehicles thought to have been involved in the incident were impounded by security services.
PCHR condemns in the strongest terms this mornings incident which is viewed in the context of the increasing proliferation of illegal weapons throughout the OPTs, and the resulting increasing levels of violence.
PCHR calls upon the Palestinian Authority to take effective measures in accordance with the rule of law to halt such incidents. Specifically, PCHR calls for an appropriate investigation into this mornings incident, prosecution of those responsible for criminal offences, and for increased efforts by Palestinian security agencies to control proliferation of weapons.
PCHR further calls on Palestinian civil society and political parties to condemn such activities and to take appropriate action in this regard.