Hamas operatives prepare to execute alleged collaborators in the Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Hamas Interior Ministry on Thursday hanged three men accused of collaborating with Israel, two weeks after Hamas blamed Israel and its collaborators for assassinating terrorist leader Mazen Fuqaha.
Fuqaha, who was a senior Hamas military officer, was assassinated on March 24 near his home in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City.
Hamas said the three hanged men were convicted by its court of spying on “the resistance” on Israel’s behalf at different times during the past three decades. None of them was accused of complicity in Fuqaha’s assassination.
“These [death] sentences were enforced in accordance with our Shari’a law, our true religion, and Palestinian law,” Hamas said in a statement, adding that the sentences were final.
The three were 32, 42 and 55 years old. They were hanged in the presence of Hamas leaders, Gazan elites and journalists.
Hamas said on Saturday that it is undertaking “increased measures” against collaborators. Two days later, al-Majd, a news site closely connected to the Hamas security services, reported that the security services had arrested many collaborators.
Hamas has called for the harshest punishments to be handed down to collaborators, but has also offered clemency to those who are willing turn themselves in.
On Wednesday, Hamas media announced that collaborators would be executed “to enforce the rule of law and achieve general deterrence.”
Human Rights Watch eschewed Hamas’s decision to carry out the executions.
““The death penalty is a barbaric practice that has no place in a modern state,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch.
“The abhorrent executions by Hamas authorities of three men in Gaza deemed to be collaborators project weakness, not strength.” she added. “Hamas authorities will never achieve true security or stability through firing squads or by the gallows, but rather through respect for international norms and the rule of law.”
The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the civil administration of the Palestinian territories, said the executions demonstrate “Hamas’s cruelty and inhumanity. Hamas and ISIS have two different names, but the same practices.”
Since it took over Gaza by an armed coup in 2007, Hamas has executed 25 people who were sentenced to death by its courts, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.