PCHR: National Unity Essential

Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas take position during clashes between Hamas and Fatah militants in Gaza City January 29, 2007. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

PCHR Welcomes the Egypt-sponsored Agreement between Hamas and Fatah; 33 Palestinians Killed and more than 120 Injured in Internal Fighting

PCHR welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Fatah, which was reached under Egyptian sponsorship in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 30 January 2007. After announcing the agreement, the OPT in general and the Gaza Strip in particular have been calm. However, some forms of militancy and the deployment of gunmen remained in some neighborhoods. The Centre calls for the immediate return to political dialogue between both sides as the only option out of the current impasse.

However, prior to this agreement, incidents of internal fighting continued. A member of Force 17 was killed in Khan Yunis, and 5 other Palestinians were injured in incidents throughout the Gaza Strip and in Nablus. Thus, the final tally of the infighting that started on Thursday, 25 January 2007, reached 33 killed, and more than 120 injured. Furthermore, abductions targeted more than 40 people on both sides.

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 14:15 on Monday, 29 January 2007, masked gunmen deployed around the Force 17 compound on Jamal Abdel Naser Street, near Quisan El-Najjar area south of Khan Yunis, fired several bullets at Dr. Samir Musallam El-Akhras (48). El-Akhras is a dentist who is considered pro-Hamas. At the time of the incident, the dentist was traveling in his vehicle and heading towards the south, when the gunmen stopped him. After the vehicle came to a stop, the gunmen saw that El-Akhras was hit by several bullets. They took him in one of their cars and dropped him near Naser Hospital in Khan Yunis. Medical sources indicated that El-Akhras was injured by several bullets in the pelvis and thighs, and sustained shrapnel injures to the face. He is currently in the intensive care unit at the hospital due to the severity of his injuries.

After this incident, intense clashes erupted in the area between members of Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions (armed wing of Hamas) on one side and Force 17 and General Intelligence on the other. Atef Abdel Al El-Najjar, a 43-year old member of Force 17, was injured by bullets in the abdomen and left leg. He died of these wounds at 2:00 on Tuesday, 30 January 2007. In addition, Mahmoud Hamdan Yunis (22), who is a General Intelligence operative, was injured by bullets in the legs. The Force 17 compound suffered extensive damages after the Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions members detonated explosive charges inside it.

At approximately 19:45 on Monday, masked gunmen fired several bullets at a General Intelligence officer in El-Amal Quarter in Khan Yunis. The targeted officer was Mousa Mohammad Mousa El-Shana (29). He was hit by several bullets in the pelvis and legs, and was taken to Naser Hospital for treatment. His injuries are listed as moderate to serious.

At approximately 20:45 on the same day, gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the National Security Force compound beside the Abbas Police Station in Gaza City. Ahmad Saber El-Gholeiti, a 24-year old resident of Nuseirat refugee camp, was injured by shrapnel in various parts of his body.

At approximately 1:30 on Tuesday (30 January 2007), gunmen fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the house of Rasem Mahmoud El-Bayyari, the Director of the Federation of Palestinian Labor Unions. The house is located near the Ophthalmic Hospital in Naser Quarter in Gaza City. As a result, El-Bayyari’s guards and unknown gunmen exchanged fire. No injuries were reported. It is noted that El-Bayyari’s house came under a similar attack at approximately 2:00 the day before.

And in Nablus, unknown gunmen traveling in a car kidnapped Mo’ath Maher Maqbout (16) at approximately 18:45 on Monday, and took him to an undisclosed location. The boy lives in the Daheya Quarter east of Nablus. The same group fired shots at Nazih El-Masri (20), the Imam of Shaf’i Mosque in Nablus. El-Masri escaped unharmed. The kidnapped boy was found at approximately 21:30 suffering from a gunshot wound in his right leg with his hands and feet bound, near the Vocational School close to Askar refugee camp. He was taken to the General Union of Women Hospital, where his injury was listed as moderate.

PCHR welcomes the agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah, and calls upon all parties to withdraw their armed presence from streets and neighborhoods. The Centre’s view is that these shameful events necessitate national dialogue more than any time in the past. These events are a serious threat to the Palestinian people as a whole, endanger social order, and push towards self-destruction.

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