Hamas executes five people in Gaza including two accused of collaborating with Israel

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Hamas authorities executed five Palestinians in Gaza on Sunday — two for “collaboration” with Israel and three for murder, the Hamas-run Ministry of International Security said in a statement Sunday.

Sunday’s executions marked the first since 2017. The ministry released the birth years, but not the names of those executed. Two were executed by hanging, and three by firing squad.

One person convicted of espionage — a resident of Gaza City born in 1978 — was arrested in 2009 for “communicating with hostile foreign parties” and providing Israel with information that “led to the targeting and martyrdom of citizens,” according to the statement.

The other — a resident of Khan Yunis born in 1968 — was arrested in 2015 for supposed links to “occupation intelligence” in 1991, giving Israel details about members of the resistance, including their homes, their jobs, and the locations of rocket launches and blacksmithing workshops, the statement said.

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Three others were charged with murder in criminal cases.

The executions came after “all degrees of litigation have been exhausted” and the “convicts were granted their full right to defend themselves,” the statement read.

Other human rights groups have condemned the frequent issuance of death sentences in Gaza, and have called for the abolition of the death penalty altogether.

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights called the practice “a form of inhuman punishment contrary to international legal standards” late last month after a 22-year old was sentenced to death by hanging for premeditated murder.

Last October, the United Nations, which views both Gaza and the West Bank as occupied Palestinian territory, issued a statement calling out “serious concerns” that death sentences handed down in that year lacked fair trial guarantees.

The last official executions in the Gaza Strip came in 2017, when authorities publicly executed three people for assassinating a Hamas military leader — an assassination that triggered a crackdown on alleged collaborators with Israel.

Nearly 3,000 were invited to watch the killings, the New York Times reported in 2017. Before his execution, one man said, “I want to apologize to my people,” according to the Times.

Hamas, a militant group, has held control over the Gaza Strip since 2007 — after winning legislative elections and fiercely clashing with forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority. Under Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority exerts limited self-rule in the West Bank. Abbas has signed international treaties aiming to ban the death penalty in 2019.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights expressed “deep concern” over Sunday’s executions in a statement, saying that they violated Palestinian law. The group said it “affirms the importance of prosecuting the collaborators with the occupation, considering them complicit in war crimes,” but added that “rule of law is above all and execution of death sentences in violation of law jeopardizes justice values.”

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