In the bloodiest internal clashes since the Israeli redeployment in the Gaza Strip last month, 3 Palestinians, including a police officer, were killed and 43 others, mostly children, were injured when armed members of Hamas exchanged fire with the Palestinian police in Gaza City on Sunday, 2 October 2005. Five of the injured are in a serious condition. Earlier, a taxi driver was killed and another one was injured in Khan Yunis, and an armed group broke into Jabalya police station and opened fire.
PCHR expresses grave concern regarding the series of incidents that took place in Khan Yunis, Jabalya and Gaza City on Sunday, 2 October 2005, which left 4 Palestinians dead and injured dozens of others.
According to preliminary investigations, on Sunday morning, 2 October 2005, a member of the “Popular Army” fired at taxi drivers who closed Bani Suhaila junction in protest at the increase in fuel prices. One of the drivers, 30-year-old Yasser ‘Atiya Baraka, was killed; and another one, 25-year-old Nassim Suleiman Qudaih, was injured by a live bullet to the hand. Both victims are residents of Bani Suhaila village, east of Khan Yunis. This attack took place when an armed group of the “Popular Army” arrived at Bani Suhaila junction at approximately 09:00. The group attempted to cross the junction, but the taxi drivers refused to open it for them. A quarrel erupted between the two sides and it developed to the extent that the armed group opened fire. The drivers threw stones at members of the group and forced them to leave the area.
In another incident, at approximately 11:10, a group consisting of 10 armed persons calling themselves “Fatah Combatants” broke into the police station in Jabalya and opened fire in the air. Schoolchildren at neighboring schools were extremely terrified. This attack came in protest at the appointment of Major Eyad Killab as a director of the Criminal Intelligence Bureau in the town - the protesters claim that he is unqualified for this post.
In Gaza City, 3 Palestinians were killed and 43 others, mostly children, were injured as a result of the clashes that broke out between armed members of Hamas and the Palestinian police on Sunday evening. Five of the injured are in a serious condition. According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR, the incident started at approximately 18:00 on Sunday, 2 October 2005, following a quarrel between Mohammed al-Rantissi, the son of the late leader of Hamas ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al-Rantissi, and a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces near the Bank of Palestine in al-Nasser Street in Gaza City. The quarrel developed into an exchange of fire between the police and a number of members of Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, who arrived at the area. Two persons were injured in these clashes. Additionally, a child was seriously injured as a police vehicle that was traveling fast towards the area hit her.
Soon, the clashes extended to the neighboring Sheikh Radwan neighborhood and al-Shati refugee camp, as armed members of Hamas opened fire and threw hand grenades at Sheikh Radwan police station. As a result of the exchange of fire between those members and the Palestinian police, Hayam Mohammed Nassar, 30, was killed by a live bullet to the heart when she was on the balcony of her house. A number of other citizens who were present in the area were also injured. In the meantime, a number of citizens moved towards the police station and threw stones at the members of Hamas. In addition, a number of members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah movement, intervened to protect the police station. Consequently, the members of Hamas withdrew from the area.
Later, a number of armed members of Hamas movement together with supporters of the movement attacked the police station of al-Shati refugee camp. They fired an RPG missile at an electricity transmitter in the camp, cutting electricity from the camp. Then, the members of Hamas threw hand grenades and fired an RPG missile at the police station. As a result, the commander of the police station, Major ‘Ali Hassan Makkawi, 35, was killed by a live bullet to the head. Palestinian civilians were extremely terrified and dozens of gunmen were seen in the streets. In addition, ‘Omar Mohammed al-Shanti, 22, was killed by a live bullet to the head, while he was attempting to move away from the area of the fire exchange. A number of other persons, including police officers and members of Hamas, were injured.
In the same context, a number of gunmen believed to be members of Fatah movement fired at the house of Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahhar, a prominent leader of Hamas, in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City. Other gunmen also fired at the house of Mohammed Baroud, a leader of Hamas, in al-Shati refugee camp. As a result, Baroud’s son, 8-year-old Muntasser, was injured by a live bullet to the head.
These bloody clashes stopped at midnight, as the National and Islamic Follow-up Committee, which includes all Palestinian factions held an emergency meeting and agreed to put an end to this crisis.
On Monday noon, dozens of members of the Palestinian police who work in the police stations of al-Shati refugee camp and Sheikh Radwan neighborhood broke into the building of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza City. They opened fire into the air. Then, they broke into a session of the PLC in protest at yesterday’s incidents and called upon the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to take effective measures to stop the deterioration in the security situation. Consequently, the PLC speaker suspended the session.
As it strongly condemns these regrettable incidents: PCHR calls for respect for the Palestinian civilians and their dignity and reminds the PNA and political factions that they exist only to defend the rights, interests and dignity of the Palestinian people, and any action that violates this principle, whoever responsible for it, is strongly condemned.
PCHR calls upon the two sides to stop using weapons and resort to dialogue. PCHR strongly condemns all attempts to terrify civilians and the transformation of populated areas into fields for confrontations that endanger innocent civilians. PCHR considers these latest clashes a crime against civilians.
PCHR calls for compliance with the rule of law and democracy. PCHR strongly condemns militarization of the Palestinian society and fully supports efforts made to put an end to this phenomenon and the state of security chaos, which threaten the safety and security of the society. PCHR calls upon national and Islamic factions to immediately intervene to prevent further deterioration and ease the tension that can lead to the explosion of the situation at any time.
PCHR calls for an impartial and transparent investigation into these incidents, including the deaths of the four citizens, and bring those who are found responsible to justice. PCHR indicates that the failure of the PNA to deal seriously with similar previous incidents has led to this aggravation of the phenomenon.