zondag 16 augustus 2009

Bloodbath in Rafah

The Palestinina Center for Human Rights published the following investigation of the shootout friday and saturday in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, where the imam of a mosque called for the birth of an Islamic Emirate, led by his group, the Jund Ansar Allah. It seems that the Jund Ansar Allah had earlier caused troubles by - among other things - attacking parties like weddings. It looks as if Hamas was provoked and had to act. The question - also asked by the PCHR - however is: why this was done in such a bloody way. Why send the Izzedin al Qassam Brigades to do the job? Didn't they have enough policemen?

The late sheikh Abdul Latif Moussa

28 Persons Killed and at Least 100 Others Wounded

On Friday afternoon, bloody confrontations erupted between the police and the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) on one side and members of an armed group known as "Soldiers of Allah's Supporters" on the other side. The clashes continued until Saturday morning, taking lives of at least 28 persons and wounding more than 100 others, some of whom sustained serious wounds. The dead include 3 civilians, 3 police officers, 3 members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades and 8 members of the armed group, including its leader, Sheikh 'Abdul Latif Mousa.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 13:00 on Friday, 14 August 2009, during the Friday Sermon, Sheikh 'Abdul Latif Mousa, the Imam of Ibn Taimiyah Mosque in al-Brazil neighborhood in Rafah, declared the birth of an Islamic emirate and called for allegiance for him and his group, which he called "Soldiers of Allah's Supporters." Sheikh Mousa also criticized the Government in Gaza and threatened it with fighting if it attempts to storm and control the mosque.

The sermon was preceded by intensive deployment of members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades and police officers in the vicinity of the mosque. At the end of the prayer, the worshippers left the mosque quietly. However, dozens of members of the armed group stayed in the mosque until the afternoon prayer (approximately 16:30). Shortly after 17:00, the besieging forces ordered all those who were inside the mosque to surrender. Families of a number of those who were inside the mosque intervened and demanded their relatives to get out of the mosque. Some of them accepted the demand and got out of the mosque. Soon after, gunmen opened fire from inside the mosque at members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades and police officers. Consequently, a bloody confrontation erupted between the two sides, which continued until 06:00 on Saturday. At least 28 persons have been killed, including 5 ones who have not been identified so far. The dead include 3 civilians, 3 police officers, 3 members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades and 8 members of the armed group, including its leader, Sheikh 'Abdul Latif Mousa. At least 100 others have been wounded.

Members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades and police officers controlled the mosque and its vicinity. Rescue operation are still ongoing under rubbles of two houses adjacent to the mosque, which belong to Sheikh Mousa and the Lafi family, where Shiekh Mousa's body was found.

The police arrested at least 100 persons who are suspected to be members of the armed group, including some of the wounded persons. The police closed the area and the vicinity of the main hospital in the town and denied access of journalists.

At approximately 11:00 on Saturday, the web site of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza quoted Eihab al-Ghussain, Spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, as saying: "Palestinian security services have concluded a security operation in Rafah against an expiatory group headed by 'Abdul Latif Mousa, who threatened the legitimate government in Gaza, declared secession and described Hamas as a secular movement that must be fought and killed." Al-Ghussain accused members of the group of "having deviant ideologies, of expiating the population of Gaza and of carrying out several attacks against wedding parties and cafés."

PCHR reiterates its condemnation for these bloody clashes.

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