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Attacks on Public Institutions Continue

Security Chaos and Proliferation of Small Arms

Attacks on Public Institutions and Officials

Field Update

13 March 2006


Attacks on Public Institutions Continue

Over the past two days, scores of armed Palestinians have carried out attacks on Al-Aqsa University in Khan Yunis, Al-Karama Military Hospital in Khan Yunis and the Electric Power Station located in the centre of the Gaza Strip.

PCHR’s preliminary investigations indicate that at approximately 10:30 on Sunday, 12 March 2006, a group that included an armed member of the “Ahmad Abu El-Riesh Brigades”, affiliated with Fatah, travelled to Al Aqsa University in Khan Yunis in a large transport vehicle and stormed the campus.  The gunman fired a few shots at the entrance of the campus, causing panic among those in the area.  As a result of the attack, the Female Student Council suspended study at the university and evacuated all female students.  The attack and suspension of study for female students occurred in the context of a dispute between a member of the Student Council and the President of the Female Student Council, over the organization and supervision of a student activity.

Earlier on the same day, at approximately 09:00, gunmen from the Military Intelligence Service, travelling in two military vehicles, stormed Al-Karama Military Hospital in Greater Abasan, east of Khan Yunis.  They closed the road leading to the hospital and demanded the arrest of Dr. Mazen Rajab El-Batsh (31).  They claimed that they were carrying an arrest warrant but did not show it.  The hospital’s administration staff informed the gunmen that the physician was on sick leave.  Arguments broke out between the hospital staff and the gunmen, who believed that the physician was inside the hospital.  The gunmen attempted to search the hospital but were confronted by civilians present in the hospital, as well as the hospital staff.  The gunmen left the area but returned 10 minutes later, wearing masks.  They deployed at the entrances of the hospital, repeating the same demands and threatening to storm the hospital building in search of the physician.  The gunmen eventually gave up when the hospital administration and staff told them unequivocally that the physician was on sick leave.

PCHR learned that the physician in question is a dentist in the Military Medical Services.  The attack on the hospital and the attempt to arrest him appears to be as a result of a clan dispute.

A group of 50 gunmen, affiliated with Fatah, attempted to storm the electric power station located north of Nuseirat refugee camp, on Saturday, 11 March 2006.  They were demanding jobs.  However, the station guards and Palestinian Police and National Security Forces prevented them from entering the station.  After failing to enter the station complex, the gunmen deployed at the entrances of the station and prevented staff from entering.  The siege lasted for 4 hours, during which 5 gunmen negotiated with the station administration and Palestinian Legislative Council Member, Dr. Ibrahim El-Musadar.  The gunmen set a deadline of 48 hours within which time their demands should be met.  Otherwise, they threatened to escalate their actions over the following days.

PCHR is concerned about the continuation of these dangerous attacks and the ongoing state of security chaos in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The Centre calls upon the PNA, represented by the Attorney-General, to investigate these attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice.