Hamas announced that it will carry out 13 public executions in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, presenting a challenge to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who must approve all execution orders.
The condemned prisoners have been charged with murder and robbery, although none have been accused of collaborating with Israel. Capital punishment is permitted under Palestinian penal law for murder, drug trafficking, collaborating with Israel, and selling land to Jews.
“Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza, ” said Ismail Jaber, the Hamas-appointed attorney general in Gaza, without specifying a specific time. He requested that they take place before “a large crowd.”
“The victims’ families have the right to demand that the punishments be implemented, ” said another Hamas official, Khalil al-Haya, at Friday prayers.
While death sentences have to be approved by the head of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas challenged Abbas’ legitimacy since the terrorist group won the 2006 elections in Gaza and violently expelled Fatah, the PA’s ruling party, from the territory. The PA’s current inability to extend its authority over Gaza complicates pretensions toward a viable Palestinian state that would include the coastal enclave.
Hamas last staged public executions during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when it killed six men accused of collaborating with Israel after prayers at Gaza’s main mosque. It similarly executed six suspected collaborators in 2012, tying one of the corpses to a motorcycle and dragging it through the streets.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that nine death sentences have been handed down this year in Gaza, and two in the West Bank. Since the PA’s founding in 1994, 170 Palestinians have been sentenced to death and 30 executed. Most executions have taken place in Gaza.
Amnesty International condemned Hamas in 2014 for carrying out 23 executions during its war against Israel, including the six public killings.
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