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PCHR Closely Follows up Latest incidents in al-Nasser Village and Urges Citizens to Obey Civil Authorities’ Orders in State of Emergency

Ref: 20/2020

PCHR closely follows up latest incidents in al-Nasser village, eastern Rafah, including Police handling of the peaceful protests and injury of several citizens.  PCHR urges citizens to obey civil authorities’ orders in emergencies.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, security officers forcibly dispersed a protest organized by hundreds of citizens in al-Nasser village, northeast of Rafah City, at approximately 11:00 on Sunday, 15 March 2020. The demonstrators protested against placing the returnees from abroad via Rafah Border Crossing in a mandatory quarantine at the schools of Ghassan Kanafani and Marmarah in the mentioned village as a precautionary measure to prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Police forces arrived at the area and attempted to disperse the demonstrators by opening fire in the air; as a result, around 10 citizens, including a child and a woman, sustained fractures and bruises all over their bodies and around 50 citizens, including 15 children, were arrested; some of them were arrested from their houses.

A journalist, from Rafah City, Head of the photography department at Kan’an News Agency, said that at approximately 14:45 on the abovementioned day, while covering the protest, he was pushed and beaten up (with forceful blows to the chest) by 6 Palestinian Police officers.  His cell phone was also confiscated despite identifying himself as a journalist.

PCHR affirms the security forces’ right to enforce their decision, particularly in this stage and in light of the state of emergency declared by the Palestinian President to avoid the outbreak of Coronavirus; however, it stresses that the authorities should adhere to the proportionality standards for use of force and the regulations on the use of firearms in all circumstances.

While understanding the public’s concern about the current situation, PCHR urges citizens to respect and appreciate the precautionary measures taken by the government in the Gaza Strip, which is of the latter’s foremost duties.

Thus, PCHR calls upon the authorities in the Gaza Strip to give clear instructions to its servants in terms of dealing with civilians in such crucial stage according to the international standards and Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms.

PCHR also calls upon the Public Prosecution in Gaza to open an investigation into the incident in order to identify the circumstances and how committed the Security officers to the law.

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