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OPT: Gaza clashes toll rises to 42; 160 wounded Al Mezan condemns the armed clashes and disregard to civilian life and property

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Reference: 48/2007

Security deterioration continued in the Gaza Strip as a state of chaos prevailed today. Armed clashes were focused in Gaza City where masked armed groups erected checkpoints in main streets and searched people. They also took control of most of high buildings rooftops in the city. Civilians experienced some of the worst situations of absence of their security as clashes erupted in streets and access to food and services became a dangerous business over the past few days.

Al Mezan's field research indicates that clashes have been continuous over night and today despite the declaration of a new ceasefire agreement between Fatah and Hamas factions yesterday evening. An armed group attacked the house of the director of interior security, Lieutenant Colonel Rasheed Abu Shback, and killed his five guards. Other fierce clashes were reported in Tel Al Hawa, Shijaeya, Nasser, Wehda, Magousi neighborhoods and in the outskirts of the Saraya security compound and the Intelligence compound in the city. Clashes still continue at the time of drafting this release.

The toll since yesterday evening has risen to 24 killed and 80 injured. Medical sources reported to Al Mezan that five were admitted at hospital from critical wounds. This raises the toll of the last wave of clashes, which started in the evening hours of Sunday 13 May 2007, to 42. Hospitals received 160 of the injured, whose number is believed to be higher. Al Mezan has not been able to precisely count the number of victims of acts of kidnapping, which have been carried out by both parties. Many of those were releases hours after their kidnapping. Additionally, dozens of homes have been damaged. The movement of citizens and medical teams has been seriously difficult as hospitals pleaded to citizens to give blood for the victims.

Al Mezan's field research indicates that the following people have been killed since yesterday evening:

1. Raed Abdul-Nabi, aged 26;
2. Saleem Shahir Dughmush, aged 28;
3. Nahidh Salih An-Nemer, aged 50;
4. Abdullah Mahmoud Saadat, aged 30;
5. Muhammad Saleem Abu Amra, aged 22;
6. Ahmad Yousif Hamada, aged 26;
7. Abdul-Kareem Arafat Al Masri, aged 26;
8. Ali Taha Saad, aged 23;
9. Hassan Swedan, aged 25;
10. Muhammad Mustafa Abu Saif, aged 18;
11. Issam Muhammad Al Jojo, aged 22;
12. Mahir Diyab Radhi, aged 37;
13. Baha Sameeh Al Hassani, aged 27;
14. Hani Muhammed Qalaja, aged 34;
15. Hassan Faiyz Jouha, aged 32;
16. Abudl-Fattah Abu Samaan, aged 32;
17. Mumen Ad-Deery, aged 32;
18. Muhammad Anwar Al Tash, aged 20;
19. Muhammad Ibrahim Hamad, aged 22;
20. Muhammad Shihdeh Ad Dalou, aged 30;
21. Muhammad Abdullah Abu Hassanein, aged 31
22. Raed Yousif Basheer, aged 25;
23. Barakeh Abu Mghiseeb, aged 37.

Another person has not yet been identified at the hospital.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is gravely concerned by the scope and intensity of the clashes, which have led to a very high number of casualties. The Center is also concerned that almost all the clashes occur in densely populated areas in Gaza causing severe damage to people's life, wellbeing and property. Such acts and the concurrent human rights violations cannot be justified and must stop immediately.

The Center sees the persistence of clashes as a sign of failure to all reconciliation and ceasefire efforts, which jeopardize the newly installed unity government. Should this happen, the consequences could be worse than the scenario Gaza witnessed over the past few days.

As such, Al Mezan reiterates its strong condemnation of the clashes and the violations of human rights resulting therefrom. It also reiterates its calls for prompt and thorough investigations in the acts of murder and devastation and bringing those who perpetrated them to justice. The failure to uphold the law and the provision of amnesty to those who committed criminal acts will only produce more violation and devastation.

Al Mezan calls all the parties who bear duties towards the Palestinian population in OPT to act in such a way that assists bringing the bloodshed to an end.