PCHR Condemns Excessive Use of Force by Gaza Police to Disperse Demonstration in Khuza’ah in Protest against Power Outage
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the excessive use of force
by the Palestinian police in the Gaza Strip to disperse demonstrators who came
out from Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, on Monday, 23 March 2015, in
protest against the power outage in their area, and the detention of some of
them. PCHR calls upon the
Attorney General in Gaza to open an investigation into the incident and calls
for respect for the right to peaceful assembly as ensured by the Palestinian
law and international standards.
Palestinian police in Gaza severely beat up a number of civilians and arrested
others during a spontaneous
demonstration in Khuza’a
village to demand a solution for the prolonged power outage in their area. At approximately 17:30 on Monday, 23 March
2015, dozens of civilians from Khuza’a village, east of Khan Younis in the
southern Gaza Strip, gathered in the village streets in protest against the
prolonged hours of power outage. The
number of demonstrators increased to hundreds, and young men set fire to
tires. Four police vehicles then arrived
at the area, and police officers got out in an attempt to disperse the
demonstrators. The Palestinian police
officers chased the demonstrators and severely beat them. Meanwhile, some demonstrators threw stones at
the police officers.
Attacks by the police resulted in injuring
some of the demonstrators. Three
civilians were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis to receive medical
treatment. Of the civilians who were attacked
was a pregnant woman, ‘Azzah Yousif ‘Abdel Rahman al-Najjar (23) as she was
beaten with a stick and pushed to the ground until she lost consciousness. Moreover, her husband, who has a physical
disability, was also beaten. Jihan Wasfi
Hamdan al-Najjar sustained bruises as she was beaten when she was in the
caravan she lives in. The police also arrested
at least six civilians, including a child, identified as follows:
1. Ashraf Khalil Hamdan al-Najjar (44);
2. Nedal ‘Adel Mohammed Qudeih (25);
3. Ahmed Mohammed Hussein al-Najjar (30);
4. Ayman Mohammed Hussein al-Najjar (22);
5. Yamen Shawqi Hamdan al-Najjar (14); and
6. Mohammed Khaled Ibrahim al-Najjar (25).
It should be mentioned that most of the
demonstrators who were attacked live in the caravans allocated by the Ministry
of Public Works to shelter civilians whose houses were destroyed during the
latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Residents of the area said that electricity does not reach the caravans,
so they were forced to extend power directly from the public power line. They also said the power outage schedule
applies on them like the other residents of the village. However, they refused that saying that like
it is not enough that we lost our houses.
Meanwhile, sources from the power plant said that outage happened due to
excessive electrical loads.
In this context, PCHR emphasizes on the
right to peaceful assembly is ensured under Article 26 of the Palestinian Basic
Law, and under the Public Meetings Law.
PCHR also stresses the right to personal security and not being
subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment by Police forces in addition to unacceptability
of excessive use of force when enforcing security according to international
human rights standards, especially Article (7) of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. Accordingly,
1- Calls upon the Attorney
General to question the police officers who attacked those civilians hold them
accountable according to the law;
2- Calls upon security services
to respect the law and international standards in dealing with the right to
peaceful assembly; and
3- Demands the immediate release of all detained
civilians if not proven to be involved in crimes that justify their detention.