Hamas authorities in Gaza execute five Palestinians

Human rights groups have urged Hamas to end the death penalty (Mohammed Salem - Reuters)

The Guardian  /  September 4, 2022

Two of those killed had given Israel information that led to killing of Palestinians and three were convicted of murder, says ministry.

Gaza’s Hamas authorities executed five Palestinians on Sunday, two of them on charges of espionage for Israel that dated back to 2015 and 2009, the interior ministry said.

The dawn executions, by hanging or firing squad, were the first in the Palestinian territories since 2017. Human rights groups have criticized past cases of capital punishment in Gaza.

The ministry statement did not provide full names for any of the condemned men. It said three had been convicted of murder. The two convicted spies, aged 44 and 54, had given Israel information that led to the killing of Palestinians, it said.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees the country’s intelligence services, declined to comment.

The ministry statement said: “The execution was carried out after the conclusion of all legal procedures. The rulings had been final, with implementation mandatory, after all of the convicted were accorded full rights to defend themselves.”

Palestinian and international human rights groups have condemned the death penalty and urged Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to end the practice.

The Palestinian Authority signed up to international treaties banning capital punishment in 2018.

Palestinian law says President Mahmoud Abbas has the final word on whether executions can be carried out. But he has no effective rule in Gaza.

Since Islamist Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas in 2007, its courts have sentenced dozens of Palestinians to death, and have executed 27 so far, according to human rights groups.

Hamas and Israel have fought four wars and numerous smaller engagements since 2007, the most recent in May 2021. Israel, the US and the European Union consider the group a terrorist organization for its attacks targeting Israeli civilians.