In Brief: Hamas accused of storing weapons in residential areas

Hamas insignia in Ramallah (Hoheit, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons).

Palestinian activists and human rights organisations have called on Hamas and other terror groups to stop storing weapons in residential areas of Gaza following an explosion on Thursday.

The explosion, which killed 1 person and injured 14 others, took place in a warehouse used by Hamas for storing weapons.

Activists demanded a thorough investigation into the explosion, and for those responsible to be held accountable.

The explosion occurred shortly after 8am in a house in the Al-Zawiya market area in central Gaza City.

Palestinian sources said that 69-year-old Atta Ahmed Saqallah died, while 14 civilians, including 6 children, were injured, at least one of them critically.

The three-story house in which the weapons were being stored was partially destroyed, while neighbouring houses and shops were damaged.

According to eyewitnesses, a fire had broken out in the house prior to the explosion.

The Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza said that “there have been repeated incidents of internal explosions in houses in overcrowded residential neighourhoods”.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian NGO Network called for a “serious and transparent” investigation into the explosion, as well as “serious measures to prevent such explosions happening again”.

Hamas is thought to choose popular markets as a safe place for its ammunition warehouses because it knows Israel does not target such areas.

Palestinian writer Fadel Al-Manasfeh said that the exposure of one of its weapons warehouses had left Hamas “confused”, not least following a similar incident in an open market at Nuseirat last year, in which 10 Palestinians were killed and dozens injured.