By Thomas Murphy
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
GAZA CITY, GAZA – Hamas has executed 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. The executions come one day after Israel killed three of Hamas’ top military commanders in an airstrike on a house in southern Gaza Strip. The killings suggest an attempt to by Hamas to deter any future collaboration with Israel.
Palestinians watch outside of a mosque in Gaza as seven alleged Israel collaborators are executed by masked gunmen. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)
Early Friday 11 people were killed, but whereabouts of the execution is uncertain. Reports vary, claiming that the executions took place in the Gaza City police headquarters, an abandoned police station outside of Gaza, or in a public park in Gaza City. These 11 were allegedly already sentenced to death for collaborating with Israel.
Seven more alleged collaborators were executed publicly in a central Gaza square later on Friday. Masked gunmen dressed in black shot the victims outside a mosque after prayers had ended. The victims had their heads covered and their hands tied. Video footage showed blood running down the streets as children watched.
“The spies had their heads covered and were sitting by the wall outside the mosque,” said a witness at the mosque, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “There were about 20 masked gunmen in the area. One of them said loudly that the death sentence is going to be carried out against seven collaborators.”
“They did not mention their names,” he added. “They shot them after that and then the militants left. People were shouting, God is great.”
Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from West Jerusalem, said Israel’s intelligence services rely, in part, on informers to pinpoint the whereabouts of Hamas leaders.
“Israel has a long and successful history of recruiting collaborators and informers both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and they do so through a variety of different means: sometimes it is financial inducements; other times it is blackmail, bullying, threats, promises [and] maybe intimidating family members,” Rowland said.
The killings are reminiscent of executions that took place during Israel last Gaza offensive in 2012. During that period at least seven vigilante executions took place, including one of a handcuffed man identified as Ashraf Ouaida. Quaida’s bloody body was left beneath a billboard with a sign indicating that he aided in the killing of 15 Palestinian leaders.