As Hamas carried out a string of public executions against 18 Palestinians in Gaza – the first of its kind since the 1990s – members of the Palestinian Authority voiced concern over the practice.
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Authority presidency, condemned the Hamas-ordered "random executions" of suspected collaborators with Israel on Saturday. He called the militant group's tactics unlawful and offensive "to our people and our families," adding that they were not within the scope of the law. The suspects, many of whom were serving long prison sentences, did not undergo a fair judiciary process, he said.
The Palestinian official slammed Hamas's claims that Friday's public killings were done "in accordance with the law" as "absolutely not true," and said that gunning down 18 people, including women, in broad daylight as onlookers passed by, was "cold-blooded."
The Palestinian people reject and condemn these killings, he said, as he urged human rights organizations, specifically those based in Gaza, to condemn these acts.
Abdel Rahim also called out Hamas for its targeting of other Palestinians – namely those who were placed under house arrest and shot in the legs
– for urging Hamas to accept a cease-fire agreement.
His remarks come after he called for a commission of inquiry into Hamas's crackdown on Fatah members in Gaza.
Hamas also spoke out about the maelstrom of attention the events have generated: In a televised interview with Al Jazeera, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Cairo-based Hamas leader, said the 18 Gazans were executed for their role in aiding Israel after the recent Egyptian-mediated truce.
There was public pressure on Hamas, he said, to target political dissidents after the killings of three top Hamas commanders
last week. He did, however, say he believed executions did not belong in the public sphere, or "the streets of Gaza, but [rather] inside a prison" cell.
The comments come amid Palestinian media reports that Hamas-led gunmen had executed four more Palestinians on Saturday accused of spying. Eye witnesses said the four men were shot dead in a mosque courtyard in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, as dozens of onlookers watched.
The Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat
reported Hamas's political leadership has ordered to stop the public killings "in the streets and public squares," following 24 hours of outrage and criticism over the executions "both external and internal."