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From the field

18 Nov. 2007: Hamas must prosecute those responsible for demonstrator deaths in Gaza

The "executive force" of Hamas killed seven people, including a twelve-year-old child, and injured eighty while breaking up a demonstration in Gaza City on 12 November. More than 200,000 people took part in the demonstration, which Fatah organized to mark the third anniversary of the death of its leader and first president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat. Palestinians viewed the demonstration as a protest against Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, which began in June following Hamas' takeover of Gaza 's security apparatus.

On the morning of the demonstration, a large contingent of Hamas forces, armed with rifles and clubs, spread out in the area of the demonstration. When the rally ended, violent clashes broke out between the Hamas forces and the demonstrators. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza , the Hamas forces responded to stone throwing with indiscriminate gunfire into the crowd. PCHR also reported that the troops clubbed demonstrators and journalists covering the event.

The PCHR investigation raises grave concern that the Hamas forces used excessive and lethal force. The acting Hamas government must, by law, investigate the incident and prosecute and punish the persons responsible for the killings and injuries among the demonstrators.