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Abu Mazen Orders Execution of Arabs Accused of Helping Israel

In one of his first policy decisions as head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has approved death sentences for three Arab men accused of helping Israel.
First Publish: 2/18/2005, 11:28 AM / Last Update: 2/17/2005, 8:22 PM

Gaza governor Sakher Bseso announced earlier this week that Abu Mazen had transferred several cases of people sentenced to death under Yasser Arafat’s regime to the mufti (arbiter of Islamic law) of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri. Abu Mazen then signed the decisions, authorizing PA executioners to carry out the death sentences.

Shurat HaDin – The Israel Law Center condemned the decision, and though the identity of the three men was not released, speculated that the condemned men were most probably Yusef Hassan Sinwar, Muhammad Abu Kainas and his son, Rami Kainas.

Sinwar, 31, was sentenced to hanging by a PA military tribunal in October 2004, after an hour long "trial." He was convicted of assisting the IDF in capturing fugitive terrorists.

Abu Kainas and his son were similarly convicted in a Gaza military court of charges that they tipped off the IDF to the whereabouts of Hamas chief Abdel-Aziz Rantisi in June 2003, even though it lead to a failed assassination attempt, and that they also gave away the location of Ra'fat Za'anin, a Hamas leader the IDF successfully killed in 2003. The father and son were displayed to journalists in September 2004 at a police station in Gaza operated by Mohammed Dahlan's PA forces.

Another PA prisoner, Walid Hamdiya, has been on death row since 1995. In October 2002, he was sentenced to death by firing squad. Hamdiya's sentence, however, has not yet been carried out. Several other accused Israeli agents being held in PA prisons are facing capital charges although they have not been "convicted" as of yet.

"At a time when Israel is recklessly preparing to release hundreds of dangerous Palestinian terrorists from its jails as a goodwill gesture to Abbas," stated Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, "The Palestinians are reciprocating by carrying out the executions of suspected Israeli agents. Israel must immediately abandon the planned terrorist release and takes steps to stop the death sentences from being implemented."

In August 2002, Shurat HaDin petitioned the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Justice for permission to appear in the Gaza security court to defend another accused Israeli agent, Akram Mohammed al-Zatma, who was charged by the Palestinian preventive security forces with assisting Israeli military forces in their targeted killing of Hamas and Fatah leaders. The PA rejected its request.

In December 2000, Shurat HaDin filed a similar petition with former Justice Minister Freih Abu Meddein on behalf of another accused Palestinian collaborator, Alan Bani-Odeh. Again, the Shurat HaDin request was denied by Abu Meddein. The next day, a Palestinian security court sentenced Bani-Odeh to death in the course of a ten minute "trial" during which masked Hamas gunmen roamed the court room. Shortly afterwards Bani-Odeh was brought to the public square in Shechem (Nablus) and executed by a PA firing squad.

Even a PA human rights groups joined the condemnation of Abu Mazen. Bassam Eid, director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), said that Abbas' decision to refer the cases to Sabri doesn't bode well for PA democracy. “On the one hand, Abbas talks publicly about democracy, human rights and pluralism; but on the other hand, he transfers the names of 51 Palestinians to the mufti, which is against international rules and human rights,” Eid said. “I see it like the other side of the same coin that was Arafat.”

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