Gaza has seen rapid security deterioration as Hamas' military wing, the Ezadin Al Qassam Brigades, attacked all of the installations of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). About 100 people were killed and 700 injured. This included members of the clashing parties and many civilians, including children. The PNA installations were looted, and/or allowed to be looted, and many of them were destroyed after Al Qassam Brigades confiscated all the arms and vehicles from them. Many non-governmental organizations were also attacked.



Gaza's civilians were left out of the clashes. Civilians and civilian property were targeted, and had to endure severe suffering and loss of life and property. Many homes were exposed to shooting, shelling and torching. In addition, the 12th, 13th, and 14th of June 2007 saw a series of executions of individuals because of their political affiliation.



Once the fighting stopped, acts of killing and breaking into houses spread rapidly. According to the scenes broadcasted by the Al Aqsa Television, which is owned by Hamas, individuals who were suspected of killing Hamas members in the past were extra-legally executed in the streets. Al Mezan Center condemns these acts. Regardless the soundness of murder or other allegations against these persons, the way they were treated cannot be acceptable. Their execution is a serious violation of the law and human rights standards, which require full compliance by a legal process in which every person is entitled to a fair trial where he/she has the right to defend him/herself.



Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its deep sorrow and concern about the path the situation has taken in the Gaza Strip in the past week. Inasmuch as the Center realizes the how meticulous and grave the situation Gaza lives now, it explicitly rejects the resort to arms and the assaults on the PNA installations, and the destroying of many of them in the way we witnessed. It also denounces the looting, and tolerating the looting, of these installations, which are part of the national assets of the Palestinian people; not the property of a certain group of political party. Al Mezan has continuously and strongly condemned the factional clashes that jeopardized and hurt civilians and their property.



Regardless of the conflicting political positions as to the situation which resulted from the recent fighting, Al Mezan stresses that the security and control over Gaza has de facto been transferred to Hamas, together with concurrent responsibilities for the integrity and wellbeing of civilians and those who laid arms. Hamas also bears the major responsibility for respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights as long as it maintains this control.

Al Mezan welcomes the positive gestures by Hamas, after the end of the fighting and stretching its security control in Gaza, in which it declared it would prohibit acts of revenge and ensure the release of the political and security leaders and members who were arrested by its members. Nevertheless, the Center is highly concerns by the increasing reports from the field, which confirm perpetration of acts of revenge, willful killing and assaults on property in several places in the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank.



As such, and under the divided positions concerning the current situation and its consequences, and in line with the Al Mezan Center's strife for full protection of human rights and freedoms, the Center calls for:_

1. Ensuring the safety of Palestinian citizens and their property regardless their political affiliation, profession or opinion. All the persons against whom there are allegations must be treated according to a legal process without any kind of discrimination. No indictment must be allowed without a fair trial.

2. Ensuring rapid and effective functioning of the health system and health facilities in Gaza. This has become more critical after hospitals received hundreds of those who had been wounded in the fighting, and under the increasing deterioration of the health and sanitation services prior to the start of the latest clashes.

3. Ensuring smooth functioning of relief services by local and international organizations under the increasing, and an expected greater, need for relief after the closing by Israel of all crossing points from and to the Gaza Strip.

4. Ensuring that those who have been, and might be, arrested from among Fatah members are treated humanely and with full respect for their rights.

5. Quick maintenance of the law and order and placing adequate restrictions on the use of force and arms by Hamas members.

6. Ensuring that all the commissions and omissions are in accord with the law. It is the responsibility of the authorities to promptly and effectively investigate the allegations of perpetration of crimes during and after the fighting. The state of chaos must be dealt with through a process of law, and not through counter chaos.

7. Immediate halt of all types of incitement in the faction-owned media; especially the continued use of expressions stripping humans from their human, national and religious characters. Such a language serves to encourage the use of violence without mercy against certain political groups and cannot be acceptable under any circumstances.

8. The maintenance of security and order in the PNA controlled areas in the West Bank and prohibiting acts of retaliation against individuals and institutions because of their alleged affiliation with Hamas.

9. Return to negotiation and civilized, peaceful political dialogue to bridge the gap between factions.

Choosing the path of confrontation will only bring further damage to the Palestinian people's strife for their right to self-determination and statehood as established in international law. It will also reinforce the de facto separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank which has seriously damaged the geographic contingency of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Al Mezan renews its absolute rejection of the use of violence to settle political disagreement and to all the acts that breach the law. While it welcomes the declarations assuring the maintenance of law and order and the release of the kidnapped British journalist, Alan Johnston, it reemphasizes that Hamas bears obligations towards the respect and protections of human rights and fundamental freedoms by virtue of its de facto control of the Gaza Strip.



Al Mezan also calls the international relief organizations, including UNRWA, ICRC, and WFP, to provide assistance to the civilian population in Gaza and not to relinquish their humanitarian obligations under an increasingly deteriorating situation in Gaza. This situation is expected to exacerbate after the announcement by Israel of closing all border points and by international actors of cutting off humanitarian aid.