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PCHR Condemns Killing of Civilians during Family Disputes, and Calls upon Security Services to Provide Protection for Civilians

Ref: 106/2019

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) seriously condemns the violent clashes and use of firearms during a family dispute in Khan Younis on Thursday, 26 September 2019. The violence resulted in the killing of one civilian and injuring 6 others; as well as, dozens of private properties being attacked and set on fire.  Further, medical clinics and 15 UNRWA and Government schools were closed. PCHR is deeply concerned over the growing phenomenon of using firearms during personal and family disputes; and the assault on the rule of law, which threatens civil peace. PCHR also calls upon the Attorney General in Gaza to seriously investigate this incident and bring those involved to justice. Moreover, PCHR calls upon the security services to take the necessary measures to put an end to the use of firearms in family disputes.

On Thursday, 26 September 2019, a family dispute erupted in Khan Younis and resulted in the killing of one civilian, and injury of six others. According to PCHR’s collected data, the family dispute first started on the 22nd of this month between Abu Sahloul (al-Qatatwa tribe) and Hendiq (Barbakh) families in the western Khan Younis refugee camp. The fighting restarted on Thursday morning and escalated by noon as firearms and homemade explosive devices were used. Mohammed Hamed Ahmed Abu Sahloul (27) was fatally shot with a live bullet to the neck. He was taken to Nasser Medical Center in Khan Younis, where he was pronounced dead in less than an hour. Six Other civilians were wounded, including 5 members from Abu Sahloul and al-‘Araj families (al-Qatatwa tribe).

Afterwards, stores belonging to Barbakh family were attacked and a house was burnt. Large groups of Palestinian Special Forces were deployed to control the situation, while tires were set on fire. It should be noted that a number of UNRWA schools were closed because both sides involved in the fight, threw stones and attacked each other in a densely populated area.

The UNRWA administration in the southern Gaza Strip declared closure of 11 schools, 2 clinics and a food supply warehouse that are in a location approximate to the violent events, in order to ensure the safety of students and beneficiaries. The Ministry of Education in the western Khan Younis area also suspended attendance for students but maintained it for teachers. However, teachers from both families were absent.

According to the police, they are investigating the incident and have arrested a number of suspects; they also told PCHR fieldworker that they have reinforced police presence in the area to deter further violence.

According to PCHR’s sources, members of the Palestinian armed groups and security services were involved in the dispute and used firearms.

PCHR is deeply concerned over the increasing number of casualties due to the misuse of weapons. PCHR also calls upon the competent authorities to prosecute those involved in the incident and take the necessary measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents to maintain civil peace and rule of law.