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Jungle of Guns & Law of the Jungle
Report on Infringements upon the Law and the State of Insecurity in the Gaza Strip. Gaza, January 2007


Palestinians pinned great hopes on the second legislative elections in January 2006.
It was hoped that the elections would be a major inlet to bring the Palestinian political regime out of its impasse, restore the rule of law and spread security and order within Palestinian society.
This was already of vital importance following the deterioration of the rule of law and the escalation of the state of insecurity - an insurmountable obstacle in the way of the community's development and stability, and a serious threat to an already aggravated human rights situation.
The state of insecurity began to escalate within Palestinian society at least three years before the second legislative elections took place.
A number of violations of the law began to rise, such as the proliferation and misuse of weapons, the kidnapping of foreigners (including journalists, representative of international organizations and acting partners), the abduction of citizens (among whom were executive officials in the Palestinian National Authority PNA), the violation of public institutions and the blocking of roads.
The conflict between authorities intensified the state of insecurity.
Al Mezan's fieldworkers, who monitored and documented violations in the period following the implementation of the Unilateral Disengagement Plan by the IOF and the second legislative elections, reported an unprecedented escalation of the state of insecurity and the absence of the law.
The hopes of Palestinians have, since the legislative elections, gone up in smoke.
The outcomes of the elections have led to a new type of insecurity with breaches of the law committed under political cover.
Threats and terrorization have prevailed, as have exchanged killings which have resulted in the breakout of armed clashes, especially following the speech given by the President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday 16 December 2006.
In this speech, President Abbas blamed the Hamas government for almost all problems faced by the Palestinian society and announced the possible holding of early elections.
Deadly clashes ensued between Hamas, with the participation of the Hamas-led Executive Force linked to the Ministry of Interior on one side, and the Presidential guards and General intelligence Apparatus led by Fatah on the other side.
In the next few days, 14 persons were killed, 86 were injured and 22 kidnapped from both factions.
Further clashes then erupted between the Executive Force and Security Apparatuses, killing 8 and injuring more than 100 persons on 1-2 November 2006, a day now referred to as the 'Black Sunday'.
The negative impact of the state of insecurity not only included the violation of law and the threat against innocent people's lives (notably children) but it also directly extended to the destruction of homes, commercial stores and private property.
Further, such phenomenon constitutes a major factor (in addition to IOF violations such as collective punishment, siege and closure) to discourage local and international investors and capital flow, which has in turn threatened the possibility to attain better economic growth.
In regards to these risks, and in relation to the Center's mandate dedicated to the protection and reinforcement of human rights and the rule of law in the Palestinian society, Al Mezan aimed to monitor and document incidents in which the law was violated and/or arms were misused.
Al Mezan highlights the negative impacts of the state of insecurity on human rights in general, and economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights in particular.
The Centre also stresses the importance of confronting these violations.
Documenting and monitoring these incidents remains an important step towards exposing them and their disastrous effects, as well as in raising mass awareness and mobilizing Palestinian public opinion.
In addition, it exerts pressure on the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), political parties and factions to face the situation.
It is hoped it will pressure them to work together to create a national agreement that will pave the way to confront the state of insecurity by reinforcing the rule of law.
This is especially vital following the Cabinet's failure to put an end to the state of insecurity, which represented the inability of any one faction to end this phenomenon without the cooperation of other political and social bodies.
A state of insecurity is not an inevitable reality or fate for Palestinian society, but is a phenomenon that has started and continued because of a complex network of factors.
For such a problem to be faced, with all its existing and expected short-term and long-term impacts, an understandings of the reasons lying behind it must be determined.
Such knowledge must be pursued, however, without concurrent judgments undermining Palestinian society, the legitimacy of the pursuit of political power through a democratic process and/or the pursuit of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
Nevertheless, the process of understanding the causes and manifestations of the state of insecurity must be sensitive to the human rights of Palestinian citizens and ensure community peace and security.
It is hoped this report will contribute to a thorough understanding of the state of insecurity and help identify the steps which various stakeholders can and must take in order to deal with this phenomenon in order to promote better respect and protection of human rights in OPT.

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