At approximately 4:30 pm on Wednesday, 25 January 2017, a police officer from the combating drugs department opened fire during a police chase of a suspect on a side street in Deir Al Balah refugee camp in the district of Middle Gaza. As a result, Mohammed Ma’rouf Al Aqra’, 22, sustained a bullet wound in the left side of his body and Yaqen Wesam Al Qura’an, 9 months, sustained a bullet wound in the left leg.
In his affidavit to Al Mezan, Mohammed Al Aqra’ stated that he was at a candy stall belonging to his father-in-law at the time of the incident with his sister-in-law, Naifa Issam Al Aqra’, who was carrying her infant, Yaqin. The stall is located in the neighborhood of Al Qura’an and is approximately 100 meters away from the coastal road. While the two were talking, Mohammed saw a group of armed men dressed in civilian clothes running towards them. Some of the armed men were carrying handguns and the others were carrying assault rifles. One of the armed men opened fire eastward, towards Mohammed and Naifa. Mohammed felt that he was hit; he put his hand at his left side and fall to the ground. He was carried to Al Aqsa Hospital. He found out that Yaqin was injured while he was in the hospital.
According to the police administration in the district of Middle Gaza, a police force from the combating drugs department was in an ambush, when they were shot at. The police officers chased a suspect and live fire was used during the chase.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its concern that the use of lethal and excessive force by the police in this instance violates the Criminal Procedures Law No. 3 of 2001. According to the law, detention shall be executed by methods which do not incur physical or moral harm to the persons wanted for arrest. If the wanted persons resist, law enforcement officers may use reasonable and necessary methods to arrest them.
The excessive use of force by police officers also violates article 3 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials of 1979, which states “Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty”.
Al Mezan calls on the Gaza authorities to investigate the above mentioned incident under domestic and international law enforcement standards, and to take all necessary procedures to ensure the respect of law regulations in Gaza. Those who are proven to be involved in such violations must be brought to justice in accordance with legal processes, without delay.