Factional fighting by Palestinian armed groups has reached an unprecedented level and is recklessly endangering the lives of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip. In recent days, shoot outs between armed groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Authority security forces have resulted in civilian bystanders being killed and injured due to high-powered weapons being used in densely populated civilian areas.
On Sunday 2 October two Palestinian bystanders were killed and several were injured as a result of armed clashes between Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces and members and supporters of the Palestinian armed group Hamas in Gaza City and in an attack by another armed group reportedly calling itself the “Popular Army” in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis.
Armed clashes broke out when PA security forces attempted to stop a car carrying armed Hamas members reportedly to enforce compliance with a PA ban imposed last week on armed groups carrying/displaying weapons in population centres in the Gaza Strip.
A PA police chief and a security forces member were killed and some 30 to 40 Hamas members and PA security forces personnel were wounded in the armed clashes. Hamas members reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades at a PA police station.
The previous week, on 23 September, some 20 Palestinians, most of them unarmed bystanders and including several children, were killed and dozens were injured in the explosion of a vehicle carrying weapons and explosive during a parade of Hamas and its armed groups in the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip.
Amnesty International calls on all Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, to put an end to reckless shooting and other attacks in residential areas or busy streets, and to cease putting at risk the lives and well-being of Palestinian civilians.
The organization also reiterates its call on the PA to act in conformity with human rights standards as it promptly takes concrete measures to re-establish the rule of law and to prevent such attacks by armed groups, to carry out thorough and independent investigations into all the cases of killing and injuring of Palestinians by both armed groups and security forces and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.