The Hamas government has decided to execute a number of Palestinians who were found guilty of “collaboration” with Israel despite protests by human rights and legal organizations, Hamas’s Minister of Interior, Fathi Hammad, announced Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was quoted as strongly criticizing those who have been firing rockets at Israel in the past few days.

Zahar’s remarks were made during an interview with an Iranian TV station.

Zahar hinted in the interview that those who were firing the rockets were trying to drag Hamas and Israel into a new round of fighting. He described the rocket-launchers as “suspicious” elements – a term often used in the Palestinian territories denounce those accused of being Israeli agents.

Zahar’s remarks have drawn sharp criticism from Fatah leaders and spokesmen in the West Bank, who accused Hamas of “working to stop the Palestinian resistance against Israel.”

Hammad said that the executions would take place “in the near future.” He said there have been “new developments” with regards to the case of Palestinians suspected of “collaboration with the enemy,” but did not give further details.

A number of Palestinian human rights organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have appealed to the Hamas government to refrain from carrying out death sentences.

The organizations have long been demanding that the death penalty be abolished in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It’s not known how many Palestinians have been sentenced to death by Hamas courts in the Gaza Strip for allegedly serving as informants for Israel.

In the past year, Hamas authorities announced that they have managed to uncover dozens of “collaborators” in the Gaza Strip, some of whom had been directly and indirectly responsible for the killing of Palestinian gunmen and civilians.

Some of the alleged informants were also accused of passing on information to the Palestinian Authority leadership and security forces in the West Bank during Operation Cast Lead more than a year ago.

Hammad said that the security situation in the Gaza Strip was “stable,” adding that the Hamas government was doing its utmost to stop its enemies from spreading anarchy and lawlessness.

The Hamas minister said that a recent spate of bombings that hit the Gaza Strip was the work of “teenagers who were followers of a certain ideology.” He said that some of the attacks were the result of personal disputes, noting that his ministry was working on raising the awareness of young men in order to discipline them.

Local journalists had attributed the bombings to an al-Qaida-inspired radical Islamic group, whose members targeted hair salons, cafes, restaurants and other facilities in various parts of the Gaza Strip.

But Hammad said that Hamas continues to maintain a working relationship with radical groups in the Gaza Strip.

He also denied reports according to which Hamas has been arresting Palestinian militiamen who fire rockets at Israel. “Our prisoners are open to all and we don’t have even one person who fired rockets at Israel,” he said. “Hamas in the Gaza Strip protects the resistance.”

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger