A Hamas militant grabs a Palestinian suspected of
collaborating with Israel, before being executed in Gaza
City. Photo by Reuters
Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza have executed 18 Palestinians
accused of collaborating with Israel, a day after Israeli
forces killed three Hamas commanders, the highest-ranking
militants to die in the six-week war.
Militants wearing masks and dressed in black gunned down
seven of those condemned, whose faces were covered and hands
bound, in front of worshippers emerging from the Omari mosque
on Palestine Square, in the first public executions in the
enclave since the 1990s.
A further 11 were killed at an abandoned police station near
Gaza City, Hamas security officials said.
Two bodies were seen being loaded onto an ambulance before
Reuters journalists were told to leave the area.
"The resistance has begun an operation called 'strangling the
necks', targeting collaborators who aid the (Israeli)
occupation, kill our people and destroy houses," said
Al-Majd, a website run by Hamas's internal security service.
A so-called conviction letter signed by the "Palestinian
Resistance" was posted on a wall near where the bodies of the
alleged collaborators lay. The notice read:
"They provided the enemy with information about the
whereabouts of fighters, tunnels of resistance, bombs, houses
of fighters and places of rockets, and the occupation
bombarded these areas, killing a number of fighters ...
Therefore, the ruling of revolutionary justice was handed
The crackdown on suspected collaborators follows the killing
of three of Hamas's most senior military commanders in an
Israeli air strike on Thursday. That attack depended on
precise intelligence on their whereabouts.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights denounced the
killings of Gazans by militants.
"We demand the Palestinian National Authority and the
resistance (Palestinian armed factions) to intervene to stop
these extra-judicial executions, no matter what the reasons
and motives are," Raji al-Surani, the chairman of the
organisation, said in a statement.
Fighting between Israel and Hamas raged on. A mortar bomb
fired from Gaza killed a four-year-old Israeli boy, the first
Israeli child killed in the conflict.
More than 80 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel,
wounding three people at a synagogue in Ashdod and two others
in Beersheba and Sderot, Israeli police said.
Israeli forces carried out more than 25 air strikes in Gaza
on Friday, killing four people, Palestinian health officials
Israel launched its offensive on Gaza on July 8 with the
stated aim of putting an end to cross-border rocket fire.
More than 2070 Palestinians have since been killed in the
conflict, most of them civilians, while large areas of Gaza
have been destroyed, leaving around 400,000 of the enclave's
1.8 million people displaced. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and
four civilians in Israel have been killed.
HAMAS LEADERS ARE TARGETS
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised cooperation
between Israel's military and its internal security service,
Shin Bet, for the air strike that killed the three Hamas
commanders, saying it demonstrated a high level of knowledge
about the whereabouts of Hamas's leaders.
Hamas identified the three as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed
al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, saying they had been at the
forefront of the fight against Israel for two decades.
Israel said two of them had been instrumental in the 2006
kidnapping of an Israeli soldier who was held in Gaza for
five years before being freed in a prisoner exchange, as well
as other deadly attacks.
Since a 10-day ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday, Israel has
focused its attacks on the military leadership of Hamas.
On Tuesday, as the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire fell apart, an
Israeli air strike hit a building in northern Gaza, killing
the wife and two children of Mohammed Deif, Hamas's top
Deif, mastermind of a tunnel network under Gaza that has been
used to attack Israel and long a target, appears to have
survived, although his whereabouts are unknown.
On Thursday, Netanyahu granted preliminary approval for the
call-up of 10,000 army reservists, signalling the possibility
of heightened military action in Gaza.