Palestinian Islamists attack children's festival in Gaza Strip

Monday, May 7, 2007

Palestinian Islamists attacked a children's festival at a United Nations school in Rafah because boys and girls were intermingled at the event which the Islamists declared was a violation of sex segregation in Islam.

Prior to the grenade attacks and the ensuing gunfight, the Islamists issued warnings about diluting the people's Islamic faith. Protest signs read that the U.N. "is turning schools into nightclubs." The gripe of the Islamists who appeared in long Islamic robes and wore beards was that the United Nations was "turning people away from Islam."

Nevertheless, U.N. officials ignored the protesters. Later, a bodyguard of the Palestinian legislator Majed Abu Shamaleh was killed and several kids ended up injured. The bodyguard was shot dead in broad daylight while terrified children observed the incident. John Ging, the top U.N. official at the festival emerged un-harmed from the incident.

John Ging believes that the security problems in Gaza are due to lack of money, saying "The bottom line is that security forces that we all rely on to uphold law and order have been without their regular salaries for well over a year."

According to one official who spoke anonymously, "What's new is that this group, which seems to have developed a few years ago, believes in violence if they see things they believe are wrong."