Casualties' toll rises in OPT under unrelenting tension and suspense prevail

The past week witnessed unprecedented fighting as the Hamas military wing, Iazadin Al Qassam Brigades, and the Executive Forces launched a full scale attack against the PNA's security installations and took control of the Gaza Strip. According to Al Mezan's initial field reports; the period from 10 to 17 June 2007 saw a serious rise in the number of Palestinian casualties as a result of the fighting. 160 were identified and reportedly killed. Of those 45 were civilians, 87 members of Fatah and security apparatus, (of whom were two PFLP members and one Hamas member who worked for the national security). 28 of the Izadin Al Qassam Brigades and Executive Force members were also killed.

26 were killed in the north Gaza District; 83 in Gaza City, 8 in Middle Gaza; 29 in Khan Younis, and 14 in Rafah District.

The number of people who were injured reached 769. They were distributed as follows: 200 in northern Gaza; 250 in Gaza City, 32 in Middle Gaza, 159 in Khan Younis, and 108 in Rafah.

The number of fatalities is expected to rise as many of the injured suffer critical wounds and many have not been missing or not documented. Al Mezan continues its documentation of the damages sustained by homes and private and public property in Gaza.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern and strong condemnation of the loss of so many lives. It reiterates its view that Hamas - the party that has gained de facto security control over Gaza - bears immediate responsibility for ensuring the safety of the civilian population and observance of their human rights. As the Center continues the monitoring of the situation on the ground, it condemns the acts of revengeful killing, arrest and vandalism in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as illegal and seriously damaging. They have created an atmosphere of dismay and tension and must stop instantly.

The Center also reiterates the demands it posed in previous press release; including maintenance of law and order, guaranteeing the safety of civilians, full observance of the law and of the inalienable right to a fair trial, attending to the instant needs and the relief of the population, and halting all kinds of incitement.