Death sentence awaits Abbas approval

PA "military" court in Bethlehem finds Palestinian security agent guilty of "collaboration" with Israel.

abbas 224 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
abbas 224 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
A Palestinian Authority "military" court in Bethlehem on Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian security agent to death by a firing squad after finding him guilty of "collaboration" with Israel. The agent, whose identity was not revealed, previously served as a member of the PA's General Intelligence Force in the West Bank before joining the Palestinian Naval Force. This was the sixth verdict of its kind in the past year. PA "military" courts in Jenin and Hebron had also imposed the death penalty on Palestinian civilians and security officers convicted of assisting Israel in its war against Palestinian gunmen and fugitives in the West Bank. Ironically, the death sentences come at a time when the PA security forces are increasing their security coordination with Israel in the West Bank and are actively involved in a massive crackdown on Hamas supporters. The death sentences must be approved by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who has thus far refrained from endorsing the verdicts. The 24-year-old security officer who was sentenced to death Wednesday is from the village of Khirbet al-Aroub north of Bethlehem. The three-panel court, which was headed by judge Fares Dudeh, was told that the officer was recruited as an informer for the Shin Bet back in 1999 when he was working at the Gush Etzion petrol station. Prosecutors Ibrahim Abu Saleh and Akram Arar accused the defendant of providing the Shin Bet with information that led to the killing of Fatah gunmen Jad Salem and Ahmed Hamamdeh on March 8, 2002. The two gunmen, who were members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, were killed in an Israeli security operation outside the Dehaishe refugee camp in the Bethlehem area. Human rights activists said that PA courts have issued more than 85 death sentences since 1994. Most of the sentences were issued by State Security Courts, which were established by Yasser Arafat in February 1995. Under pressure from human rights organizations, the courts were abolished in 2003.