State of insecurity escalates; BBC’s Johnston remains kidnapped

Palestinian journalists and politicians display posters of the kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston during a protest calling for his release in the West Bank city of Jenin, 7 April 2007. (Raed Abu Baker/MaanImages)

The state of insecurity saw a serious escalation recently as the mysterious kidnapping of British journalist, Alan Johnston, continues despite the condemnations and pressure exerted by fellow journalists and civil society activists. Killings, kidnappings and other breaches of the law continued in Gaza. According to Al Mezan’s documentation in Gaza, 152 persons have been killed since the beginning of 2007; among them are ten children. Four have been killed during the first ten days of April. Additionally, 988 persons were wounded; among whom are 68 children. Fifty-seven have been wounded in the first ten days of April. In this release, the Center highlights the major incidents that engendered insecurity since 5 April 2007:

A clash between families broke out in Khan Younis Camp at approximately 2:30pm on 9 April 2007. Four persons where killed; they are: Awni Saqer,35, Hamada Zorob, 27, Masoud Abu Masoud (Al Jerwani), 37, and Abdel Raziq Al Jerwani, 51. The latter died of his wounds few hours following the incident. Further, the clash resulted in six injuries and tension in the southern town of Khan Younis.

A girl, in the twenties, from the Shati refugee camp arrived at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City at approximately 11am on 9 April 2007, after being shot in the head. According to medical sources, she has been in critical condition and there is no information available as to the identity of the perpetrator(s) or the reasons behind the shooting.

Further, at approximately 1pm on 9 April 2007, Yousef Hajaj, 19, was shot in the right shoulder while walking down Al Mansoura St. in the Shijaiya neighborhood east of Gaza City. At approximately 5:40pm on 7 April 2007, gunmen kidnapped Khaled Hamad, 32, in Khalil Wazir St. in Beit Hanoun. Eyewitnesses said they took him to Sheikh Zaid Junction where they shot him in both his legs. Medical resources, Hamad is in critical condition. The victim’s family accused the Executive Force of being involved in the kidnapping.

Fierce clashes in Qerman and Zamou St. erupted at approximately 6:30pm on the same day between the family and the Force, injuring Jalal Hamad, 30, who was shot in the left shoulder. The situation calmed following the intervention of local figures.

At approximately 1:45pm on 7 April 2007, gunmen opened fire on Mohammad Abu Samhan, 21, while he was in new Abassan area in east Khan Younis. He sustained wounds in both his legs and was transferred to Nasser Hospital in the town.

At approximately 7:30am on 7 April 2007, seven unknown gunmen took over two vehicles owned by the General Intelligence Apparatus. They forced the drivers out of the cars and seized them. It was reported that the cars were returned later.

Moreover, at approximately 8:30pm on 6 April 2007, gunmen kidnapped Mohammad Abu Taha, 25, while he was in his barbershop located in Othman Ibn Affan St in Rafah. Further, gunmen broke into Bassam Al Masri’s house in Rafah and kidnapped him from his house located in Al Brazil neighborhood in Rafah. The two persons are still abducted while it is believed that the kidnapping is related to a family clash between the victims’ two families. In yet another incident, Omar Abdullah, 17, was injured at approximately 8:15pm on 6 April 2007. He is in serious condition and there is no further information on the incident.

At approximately 6:30pm on 6 April 2007, gunmen blocked the car of Rasem Al Bayari, 49, who is the vice president of Labor Syndicates’ Union in Gaza, while driving with his family close to the Gaza’s European Hospital in Rafah. The gunmen forced the family out of the car, seized it and fled. Al Bayari was transferred to Al Quds hospital after being injured in the neck by shrapnel.

In a different incident, at approximately 6:30pm on 5 April 2007, gunmen kidnapped and opened fire on Hassan Al Naqla, 30, injuring his hand and leg. According to medics, he is in critical medical condition; there is no available information on the incident or the identity of the perpetrators.

Unknown armed persons kidnapped Fuad Ziada, 46, who is a holder of Israeli ID, at approximately 5:30pm on 6 April 2007, while he was visiting his family in Az Zaitoun neighborhood in Gaza City. Furthermore, at approximately 5pm on 5 April 2007 gunmen kidnapped Jomaa Hamad Al Masri, 26, while he was in Sheikh Nasser area in Khan Younis. He was taken to Bani Suheila roundabout on Salah Ad-Dine St., and opened fire at him. A security force that was at the scene intervened and exchanged fire with kidnappers. As a result, Jomaa Abu Taha, 30, Hanaa Mouhareb, 14, and Yousri Al Masri, 26, were injured.

At app. 10am on 6 April 2007, a dispute between members of Hamas and Fatah in New Abassan village turned into armed clashes. Armed men used local-made explosive devices and injured 13 persons; among whom five women and two children.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the escalation of the state of insecurity and the high number of its victims. The Center emphasizes that the continued failure of the PNA to take effective steps to halt these incidents is cause of their escalation. It also questions the continued failure of ending the kidnapping of Alan Johnston, is almost a full month after his kidnapping.

Al Mezan therefore calls upon the PNA to immediately and effectively intervene in order to put an end to the state of insecurity and restore the rule of law. It also focuses on the importance that the PNA should prioritize dealing with the state of insecurity and the lack of law enforcement, being the only measure through which it can regain the citizens’ confidence. It is inconceivable to ensure respect and protection of human rights without functioning law enforcement institutions and impartial judiciary.

Related Links

  • Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
  • Palestinian Solidarity Strike to Secure Release of BBC Correspondent, International Federation of Journalists (4 April 2007)
  • Great concern over continued detention of BBC journalist, Reporters Without Borders (2 April 2007)
  • Palestinian journalist’s letter to Alan Johnston, Sami Abu Salem writing from the Gaza Strip, occupied Palestine (28 March 2007)
  • BBC reporter still held two weeks after kidnapping, Al-Haq (26 March 2007)
  • Al Mezan condemns the kidnapping of BBC journalist, Al-Mezan (13 March 2007)
  • BBC’s Alan Johnson second reporter kidnapped in Gaza this year, Reporters Without Borders (12 March 2007)
  • BY TOPIC: Press Freedom