The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) condemns the brutal attack on Advocate Jamil Sarhan, Director of the ICHR Gaza Office, and Advocate Bakr al-Turkmani, Complaints Coordinator at the ICHR Gaza Office. Security personnel assaulted Sarhan and Turkmani while they were performing their duties and monitoring events in the Gaza Strip.
This evening, Sarhan and Turkmani were physically assaulted while they were at the house of Osama al-Kahlout, a journalist, in the Deir al-Balah city. Security personnel stormed into the building and assailed residents. Sarhan and Turkmani were forced out to the street, beaten with batons, and punched by dozens of security officers, knowing they were staff members of the ICHR. Both Sarhan and Turkmani were transported to hospital. Still, attempts were made to arrest them while they were receiving medical treatment.
Due to the physical assault, Sarhan sustained wounds to the head, requiring several stitches. He also suffered from severe contusions in the back and hands. Turkmani sustained contusions in various parts of his body. Sarhan and Turkmani were discharged from hospital late at night. However, both are still in need of medical follow-up.
The ICHR views with great concern and considers the attack as an unprecedented targeting of ICHR staff. It delivers a dangerous message to civil society organisations, activists, and human rights defenders, stating that no one is immune. The ICHR views this attack as an attempt to prevent the Commission from playing its professional role in monitoring and documenting recent violations across the Gaza Strip.
Against this background, the ICHR holds official authorities in the Gaza Strip fully responsible for the safety of ICHR staff. The ICHR calls on responsible authorities in the Gaza Strip to open a formal, serious and independent investigation into the assault on ICHR staff and bring perpetrators to justice.
The ICHR also calls for halting attacks on, allowing freedom of expression, and providing protection to peaceful demonstrators in the Gaza Strip. Security personnel in plain clothes, who persecute demonstrators in the streets, should be pulled back. All detained persons should be released immediately. Prosecution of activists should be brought to an end. The ICHR calls on national and Islamic factions, independent personalities, and civil society organisations to urgently intervene with the Hamas leadership and security officials in the Gaza Strip to put an end to these assaults.