Hamas executes 5 Gazans charged with murder, aiding Israel

This is a locator map of Israel and the Palestinian Territories. (AP Photo)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s Hamas authorities Sunday executed five Palestinian men convicted in separate cases of murder and alleged collaboration with Israel.

The Interior Ministry said the executions meant “to achieve public deterrence and security,” but rights groups in the past have questioned fair-trial standards in the military and civilian courts of the Islamic militant group.

Two of the men, both members of the Palestinian security forces, were killed by firing squad, and the other three were hanged at dawn at a security site in Gaza City.

The executions were the first since Hamas executed three Gazans after a hasty trial in the killing a leader of the group in 2017.

Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 after fierce clashes with forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It has issued 180 death sentences and followed through on 33 of them “without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of Palestinian law,” according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

The Palestinian Authority, based in and exerting limited self rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, signed onto international treaties banning capital punishment in 2018.

Two of those put to death Sunday, ages 44 and 54, were charged with collaborating with Israel and providing it with information that aided the Israeli military in striking targets in Gaza, the ministry said. They had been detained since 2009 and 2015, respectively.

The three others were found guilty of murder in separate cases, including one man who allegedly took part in a shootout that killed a man and a teenage girl during a family dispute in July.

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