A military court in Gaza on Sunday sentenced two people convicted of drug trafficking to death.
Nasser Suleiman, who heads the military court, said the court has 30 similar pending cases to discuss. The drug trafficking cases were transferred to the military court three months ago in light of their seriousness and their impact on national security.
Suleiman explained that the two were sentenced to death because they were punished in the past over drug trafficking, but the punishment did not deter them and they returned to their old ways.
The Palestine newspaper, which is affiliated with Hamas, reported that this is the first time that the death penalty has been imposed on drug traffickers in Gaza. Most of the executions in Gaza to date have been of people convicted of spying for Israel, but Hamas has also executed people convicted of murder.
In theory all execution orders in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) territories must be approved by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in Ramallah and who imposed a moratorium on executions several years ago.
Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas’s legitimacy, and has in the past emphatically declared that the death penalty in Gaza can be carried out without the consent of Abbas.
Since Hamas violently took over Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah faction in the summer of 2007, it has sentenced to death 40 Gazans who were convicted of providing information to Israel.