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Call for investigation into explosion at Al-Bureij Refugee Camp

Feb. 18, 2008 3:58 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 18, 2008 3:58 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an -The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) along with the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights is calling for an investigation into an explosion that destroyed a house in Al-Bureij refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip, on Friday 15th February.

The explosion resulted in the death of eight people and the injury of dozens more; five children were amongst those killed.

The Centres call for the results of the investigation to be publicised.

The explosion occurred in the house of 41-year-old Ayman Atallah Ahmad Fayed, an activist in the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad.

The ground-floor of the concrete building was completely destroyed killing both the activist and his wife, 39-year-old Marwa Azzam Fayed, along with three of their children 17-year-old Ali, 12-year-old Basma and 5-year-old Ayyoub. A fourth son, 15-year-old Adam, was seriously injured.

In addition three of the neighbours were also killed: 17-year-old Zakaria Nabil El-Kefafi, 16-year-old Talal Salah Sa'id Abu El-Oun and 24-year-old Atallah Samir Mohammad Ismail. Approximately 60 people were injured, including 23 women and 20 children. Fourteen individuals suffered serious injuries.

The explosion destroyed six nearby houses and caused extensive destruction to ten others; dozens of nearby houses were also damaged.

PCHR and Al-Mezan have conducted a preliminary investigation into the tragedy with fieldworkers and lawyers gathering information and eyewitness testimonies from the scene. Contrary to some media reports, preliminary findings suggest that there is no evidence to confirm that the explosion was caused by a rocket fired by Israeli forces.

The findings suggest that it was more likely an internal explosion of which the cause is not yet clear. Internal explosions have in the past occurred in residential houses, particularly those that are heavily populated, due to errors in the manufacture or storage of explosives.

Eyewitnesses confirmed seeing smoke and fire issue from Fayed's house moments before the explosion.

PCHR is taking into the account that in the past Israeli forces have been involved in the assassination of Palestinian activists through the use of booby-trapped explosive devices.

Furthermore, the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, stated recently that his forces are engaged in secret operations within the Gaza Strip without specifying the nature of these operations.

In light of their initial investigation PCHR and Al-Mezan are reiterating the call for a thorough investigation into the explosion.

Regardless of the cause both organizations are highlighting the danger of storing explosives in residential areas by Palestinian resistance groups

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