Six Killed in Vigilante Attack on Jericho Central Prison

PCHR is Concerned Over the Repeated Attacks on Prisons, and Calls for Investigating these Attacks: 6 Palestinians Killed and 3 Injured by Gunmen in an Attack on Jericho Central Prison

PCHR strongly condemns the gruesome crime committed by gunmen inside Jericho Central Prison on the evening of Friday, 4 August 2006. The crime resulted in the death of six inmates, two of them by mistake, and the injury of three others. PCHR also condemns the failure of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and law-enforcement bodies to fulfill their duty to protect prisoners. The Centre views this crime as an indicator that many insist on maintaining a state of security chaos, undermining the rule of law, and practicing vigilante justice.

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 15:30 on Friday, 4 August 2006, six Palestinian gunmen disguised in police uniforms and traveling in a car with governmental license plates infiltrated into Jericho Central Prison. They broke into a prison cell and fired at the inmates inside it. They were targeting six brothers in the cell. Four of the brothers were killed: Marwan Abdallah Asmar El-Amla (41), Sufian (28), Mo’aweya (30) and Qasem (43). They were residents of the town of Qablan near Nablus. Two other prisoners were mistakenly killed: Abdallah El-Reyadi (30, from Nablus) and Ra’ed El-Hajrawi (27, from Ramallah). Three other prisoners were seriously injured.

It is noted that the shooting targeted persons suspected of killing of the brothers Ali and Husam Faraj from the town of Salfit, east of Nablus. Both were Fatah activists, who were overrun by a truck as they left a mosque after Friday Prayer in the town of Qablan on 3 June 2006.

PCHR’s documentation indicates that this is the fifth crime of its kind over the past three years. The Centre is very concerned over the repetition of these crimes, and stresses that the PNA bears full responsibility for the safety of prisoners incarcerated in its jails. The PNA must provide protection to prisoners, especially those whose lives are threatened by revenge killings because they are convicted of murder, or are threatened for any other reason.

On 10 February 2005, gunmen stormed Gaza Central Prison and succeeded in reaching prisoners cells. The gunmen killed 2 prisoners: Tha’er Mustafa Judeh (35) and Jihad Sobhi El-Masar’I (30). Both were imprisoned for murder. The gunmen kidnapped Hussein Salman Abu Yousef (26), a third prisoner detained for murder. They took him to the central Gaza Strip, where they shot and killed him. Examination of the body revealed that Abu Yousef was also tortured, as there were fractures in his bones. Five policemen were injured during the break in operation.

At approximately 05:00 on 1 October 2004, ten gunmen disguised as policemen broke into Nablus Central Prison. They reached prisoners’ cells where they shot and killed two prisoners held for murder. A prison guard was seriously injured in the incident.

At approximately 05:00 on 2 August 2005, an unknown assailant threw two hand grenades inside a cell in Gaza Central Prison. There were seven prisoners in the cell. They were imprisoned for collaborating with Israel; and five of them were sentenced to death by Palestinian State Security Courts in 2002. The seven prisoners were injured, some of them very seriously. They were taken to Shifa Hospital for treatment. Later during the day, two armed groups broke into the hospital and killed two of the injured prisoners. A third prisoner died of wounds sustained in the attack.

And on 28 December 2003, a gunman disguised as a policeman infiltrated into Gaza Central Prison. He shot and killed the prisoner Awni Abu Es’Ayyed in a revenge killing.

In light of this situation, PCHR:

  • Strongly condemns all forms of vigilante justice, undermining the rule of law, and establishing the rule of the jungle;
  • Calls upon the PNA to take serious steps to protect the lives of prisoners;
  • Calls for establishing a commission of inquiry in the crime in Jericho to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice. In addition, the commission should highlight the shortcomings of the prison authority and other responsible law-enforcement bodies;
  • Expresses concern over the repetition of these crimes via the same method under a chronic failure by the PNA to seriously confront these crimes, or pursue their perpetrators and bring them to justice. PCHR’s information indicates that the PNA had in the past released individuals who attacked its prisons; and
  • Stresses that the PNA’s failure to protect prisoners it incarcerates is in itself an encouragement towards vigilante justice. The Centre reiterates its call to put all prisons under the judicial authority, and to enact judicial supervision over prisons.

    Related Links

  • The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights