Hamas’ public executions of at least 25 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have sparked debate in the West Bank. Those executed, including at least two women, are accused of providing information which allowed Israel to carry out targeted killings of several senior Hamas officials.
Hamas officials continued to defend the mass killings through the Palestine Information Center, a Hamas-affiliated website, reporting that “the collaborators sold out their religion, sold out their people and their country for a cheap price in order to benefit the enemy which resulted in tens of Palestinians killed, homes demolished and led to the failure of some operations of the resistance.”
The website said it would not list the names of those killed “in order to preserve the reputation of the family and their sons.” Publishing the names of the collaborators could endanger entire families as each family member could be suspected of collaborating with Israel in the eyes of many.
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In the West Bank, there were mixed reactions to the killings. Tayib Abdelrahim, the Secretary General of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office told the Ma’an news agency that the executions were carried out without due process.
“The executions were done in cold blood and according to ‘Hamas law,’ meaning that whoever is not with Hamas is against it,” he added.
Abdelrahim called the killings “random executions of those who Hamas called ‘collaborators.’”
Palestinian analyst Abdelmajeed Sweilem offered a rationale, calling the executions a “spontaneous reaction” to the Israeli assassinations.
“What Hamas did is just plain wrong. I don’t think a democratic person with ethics would agree with such a practice,” he told The Media Line. “Hamas had no legal right to take matters into its own hands. The death penalty requires the signature of the Palestinian President, as stated in the Palestinian Basic Law.”
Sweilem said Abbas has clearly stated that he is against capital punishment, and that he does not believe the alleged collaborators were given a fair trial.
Palestinian leader Munib Al-Masri, who was one of the architects of the Fatah-Hamas unity government that was inaugurated in June, vacillated between support and condemnation of the killings.
“It's bad what's happening. But it's worse to spy on these people who are really fighting for independence,” Al Masri told The Media Line. “I don't justify it, but they (Hamas) know what they are doing. I wish they would have consulted the unity government and done it in accordance with the rules and regulations of the court of law."
Al Masri said that he believed that spies for Israel, like other lawbreakers, should be put in jail rather than executed.
“I wish they would put them in jail to let them feel the pains of the people who have been killed by the Israeli attacks because of the information they provided,” he said.
But some religious authorities in the West Bank defended the executions, and said the accused could have received a fair trial.
“In Islam, a fair trial could be finished within one or two hours,” Sheikh Abu Ali, an expert on Islamic law told The Media Line. “If the information enables the enemy to target specific Palestinians, leading to their execution by Israel, the death penalty could be permissible. In this case, dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed in the Israeli air strikes that targeted the Hamas leaders.
“In Islam, when any Muslim man or woman who informs the enemy of the location of Mujahedeen (resistance fighters) or senior leaders that the enemy wants to kill or bomb, he or she becomes a partner to the crime of killing and according to Islamic law, must be given the death penalty.”
He also said that he believes the death penalty could be a deterrent against future collaboration with Israel.
Political analyst Abdelmajeed Sweilem says the Hamas executions will reflect negatively on the Palestinians and the unity government.
“(But despite the difficulties it presents), it will not prevent the President from doing his job and keeping the Palestinians unified,” he said.
Al Masri, who has long been an advocate of the two-state solution, agreed that the unity government is critical to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
“The most important thing is to keep the reconciliation going, to get our independence and remove the occupation. I have been working on it for seven years. Thank God it's working.”
Article written by Abdullah H. Erakat.
Reprinted with permission from The Media Line.