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Gunmen Storm the Customs and Taxes Office in Gaza City

Security Chaos and Proliferation of Small Arms

Attacks on public institutions and officials

 

Field Update

21 February 2006

Gunmen Storm the Customs and Taxes Office in Gaza City

At approximately 12:00 on Saturday, 18 February 2006, scores of gunmen stormed the Customs and Taxes office building in the Tal El-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City.  They threatened staff and forced them to sign papers relating to a shipment of medicines, being held at the Rafah International Crossing Point on the Egyptian border.

PCHR’s fieldworker learned that Eid El-Abed Thieb, Assistant Director General of Customs and Taxes, and Mohsin Mahmoud Jarada, Assistant Director General for Administrative, Financial, and Procurement Affairs, were among the staff members who had been threatened. 

PCHR strongly condemns this attack and calls upon the Palestinian Authority, represented by the Attorney General, to conduct a serious investigation into this incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mr. Eid El-Abed Thieb informed PCHR that approximately 40 armed assailants, some of them masked, stormed the Customs and Taxes office building, close to the building of Palestinian Television, in the Tal El-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City.  They were armed with rifles and hand grenades.  Some of the gunmen removed the safety pins from grenades, while inside the building.  He added that the assailants threatened to kidnap him and other staff members, if they did not comply with their demand to sign the papers to release a shipment of medicines.  The shipment was being withheld at Rafah International Crossing Point, as there were no supporting documents for it.  He signed the papers at gunpoint.

It is noted that the shipment has been withheld at Rafah since 8 January 2006.  It was released after the attack on the Customs and Taxes offices and following the payment of a 2000 NIS fine.  The Ministry of Health indicated that the shipment is valid and fit for consumption.

At approximately 08:00 on Sunday, 19 February 2006, the Customs and Taxes staff demonstrated against the attack for one hour in front of their office building.