Hamas operatives prepare to execute alleged collaborators in the Gaza Strip..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A high level UN official on Wednesday issued a number of rare criticisms against Hamas in Gaza for holding public executions and using civilian cement for military purposes.
“I urge Hamas not to carry out these executions and I call on [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas to establish a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty,” UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov told the Security Council in New York.
“International law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” and pursuant to a trial and appeals process that scrupulously follow fair trial standards,” Mladenov said.
“I have serious doubts as to whether capital trials in Gaza meet these standards,” he said.
Even more alarming, he added, were reports of public executions.
“This raises even more alarms as public executions are prohibited under international human rights law,” Mladenov said in a speech in which he spent more time criticizing Hamas in Gaza than Israel.
The decision to carry out these executions was taken without Abbas’ required approval, which raises concerns about the continued split between Fatah and Hamas, Mladenov said.
“Palestine is one and Gaza and the West Bank are its two integral parts,” he said.
Mladenov also called on “individuals” and “groups” in Gaza to ensure that cement was used, as intended, to help rebuild Gaza homes and was not diverted for military purposes.
“All sides need to ensure that cement is used for civilian purposes only. Individuals or groups seeking to benefit from the deviation of construction materials -- for corruption, for building tunnels, or other reasons — must understand that they selfishly compound the suffering of their own people and sow the seeds of future violence,” he said.
“Palestinians in Gaza are growing ever more desperate, seeing their prospects for living a normal life and recovering their economy blocked by Hamas’s military build-up, by Israel’s security measures and closures, by the lack of Palestinian unity, and the insufficient fulfillment of aid pledges by donors,” Mladenov said.
There must be an end to Gaza’s chronic water and energy crisis, said Mladenov as he explained that most people in Gaza only have eight to 12 hours of electricity. Earlier this month, he said, three children were burned to death when a fire broke out in their home, which was ignited by the candles the family used during a power outage.
“It is deeply regrettable that some factions sought to use this tragedy to trade accusations and score political points, instead of uniting to address the energy crisis,” he said.
Violence between Israel and Gaza increased in May, he said, adding that it was the largest such escalation since the Gaza war ended in the summer of 2014. Israel carried out 14 incursions into Gaza to two destroy two military tunnels and to look for others. The IDF also carried out 13 airstrikes.
Palestinians in Gaza fired 40 mortars and eight rockets into Israel, Mladenov said. “Recent events clearly demonstrate that the specter of violence looms ominously over the territory. Unless radically more is done to address the chronic realities in Gaza, it is not a question of ‘if’, but rather of ‘when’ another escalation will take place,” Mladenov added.