Hamas has executed two Gaza residents convicted of aiding Israel by fighting terrorism. The execution, carried out Thursday, was also seen as a snub to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is supposed to give approval to all executions taking place in PA-controlled territory.
The two men accused of helping Israel were identified as Mohammed Ismail, 36, and Nasser abu Freh, 33. Both were shot repeatedly to death, and their bodies were dumped outside a Gaza hospital. Their families claimed they were told to visit them, but not informed of the pending executions and not given the bodies for burial.
Ismail was convicted of planting tracking devices in terrorists' cars, while Freh was accused of taking money from Israel, apparently in exchange for information on terrorist groups in Gaza.
The two executions were the first official use of the death penalty under Hamas reign. However, Hamas has carried out extrajudicial killings, including the murder of dozens of Fatah loyalists and men suspected of cooperating with Israel. Some were filmed being thrown out of hospital windows during the Cast Lead operation.
Three more Gaza residents have been convicted of assisting Israel and are on death row, along with six men convicted of murder.
Aiding Israel by assisting in the capture or execution of terrorists is also a death penalty offense under PA law, and those found guilty have been sentenced to death and killed by the PA as well as by Hamas in the past. However, Abbas so far has refrained from signing execution orders, and commuted death sentences to prison time with hard labor.
Human rights groups, among them Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, condemned the executions. Amnesty International termed the executions “an extremely retrograde step,” saying that Ismail and Freh were convicted in “unfair military proceedings.”