Palestinian Authority must restore rule of law and respect human rights

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is gravely concerned at the continued deterioration in internal security as a consequence of the escalation in the misuse of weapons and security chaos. Seven Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed in less than one week of internal fighting in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). PCHR reiterates its calls for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to restore law and order and respect for human rights.

The latest of these incidents took place on Tuesday, 14 June 2005, when four persons, including a father and his two sons, were killed in an exchange of fire during a family dispute. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 10:00, a number of masked armed persons, wearing military uniform and traveling in two civilian cars, intercepted another car in which three other armed persons. The incident took place in Yaffa Street in the north of Gaza City. According to eyewitnesses, an exchange of fire erupted between the two sides which left one of the armed persons in the first car and two armed persons in the second car dead. The third person in the second car was kidnapped by the attackers and his body was later found near the Martyrs Cemetery in the northeast of Gaza City. All the victims were from the same family and were identified as: Ahmed ‘Abdul ‘Aziz ‘Aziz, 53; Mohammed Ahmed ‘Aziz, 30; Rezeq Ahmed ‘Aziz, 26, (initially kidnapped); and ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Danian ‘Aziz, 30.

In chronological order, the following incidents of internal violence have been documented by PCHR in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank territory between 9 -13 June 2005:

PSS Dispute: 9 - 11 June 2005

On Thursday evening, 9 June 2005, an exchange of fire erupted between members of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PSS) and a number of members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) near the PSS headquarters in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City. One member of the PRC was injured.

The incident took place at approximately 23:00 after members of the PSS stopped a car in which members of the PRC were traveling near the PSS headquarters. The PSS ordered all those who were in the car to get out and after they refused the PSS members fired at the car. They injured and later arrested Mo’men Dughmosh (he was injured with a live bullet to the leg). The other PRC members escaped.

Later that evening, some members of the PRC and the Dughmosh family attacked and fired at the PSS headquarters in an attempt to release Dughmosh and the PSS returned fire. No casualties were reported during this exchange of fire but residents of the area were terrified.

The following evening, 10 June 2005, further armed clashes erupted between armed members of the Dughmosh family and PSS members near the house of Brigadier Rashid Abu Shibak, Head of the PSS. These clashes continued until Saturday morning, 11 June 2005 during which time tension spread over the area and PSS members were extensively deployed.

In a related incident, at approximately 22:15 on Friday, 10 June 2005, a member of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, fired a shell at a number of PSS members when they seized his gun and prevented him from passing near Abu Shibak’s house. No casualties were reported.

Family Dispute: 10 June 2005

At approximately 19:00 on Friday, 10 June 2005, 12-year-old Ahmed Khalil Qeshta was killed in Qeshta neighborhood in Rafah, when 8 armed persons from the Qeshta family attacked his family home in the context of another family dispute. Alarmingly, PCHR’s investigations revealed that two of the attackers were members of Palestinian security services.

PRC Kidnapping: 11 June 2005

On Saturday morning, 11 June 2005, an armed group of the PRC kidnapped Suhail Raihan, a member of the PSS from the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya, in the centre of Jabalya refugee camp. During this attack, the kidnappers opened fire, injuring two civilian bystanders: ‘Aamer Mohammed al-Bala’awi, 7, injured by a live bullet in the left foot; and ‘Aassi Ghabboun, 68, injured by shrapnel to the head and left hand.

In response, dozens of armed members of the Raihan family gathered in the streets. They burnt tires and closed the main road in Jabalya until Suhail Raihan was released.

Family Dispute: 12 June 2005

At approximately 07:45 on Sunday, 12 June 2005, 18-year-old ‘Emad ‘Ouda Abu Sunaima was shot dead by his uncle, ‘Abdul Baset Ahmed Abu Sunaima in al-Shouka village, east of Rafah. This attack took place in the context of a family dispute.

Unknown context: 12 June 2005

At approximately 12:00 on 12 June 2005, Randa Abu al-Qaraya, 29, was seriously injured by a live bullet to the neck when she was on the balcony of her house in ‘Asqoula neighborhood in Gaza City. The source of the live bullet is unknown. The woman was evacuated to an Israeli hospital.

Wedding Party Accident: 12 June 2005

At approximately 21:45 on the 12 June 2005, 16 people were injured by live bullets and shrapnel during wedding party of the Abu al-Foul family in Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. PCHR learnt that Mohammed Isma’il ‘Abdul ‘Aal, 19, opened fire from his gun in celebration. He lost control over the gun and live bullets and shrapnel hit 16 persons at the party.

Internal al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade Dispute: 12 June 2005

At approximately 14:00 on Sunday, 12 June 2005, an armed clash erupted between two groups of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah in the centre of Ramallah. Two gunmen were injured: Mohammed ‘Aadel Erhaimi, 26 and Mahmoud Mohammed Farhoud, 25, both from Beit Reema village northwest of Ramallah.

The clash erupted after members of the al-Aqsa Brigades in Ramallah kidnapped Mohammed ‘Aassi, 37, from Beit Reema, and interrogated him on suspicions of his collaboration with Israeli security services.

Explosion: 13 June 2005

On Monday, 13 June 2005, Bilal Na’im Abu al-Hassani, 18, a member of Izziddin al-Qassam Brigade of Hamas from Jabalya refugee camp, was killed when a bomb he was apperently preparing inside a house in al-Shati refugee camp exploded. On the preceding day, a similar exlosion occurred in Khan Yunis refugee camp, but no casualties were reported.

In light of the above documented incidents and the continued deterioration in the internal security in the OPT: PCHR calls upon the PNA to assume its responsibility to restore order and promote the rule of law while respecting human rights. PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to swiftly investigate all incidents and bring those found responsible to justice. PCHR strongly condemns the use of violence and weapons to settle disputes - the justice system can be the only fora to settle disputes.

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