In Gaza, Hamas Executes Two Palestinians

Human rights groups in the Occupied Palestinians Territories reported the execution of two Palestinians by the Hamas government in Gaza. Naser Abu Frieh and Mohamad Ismail, both natives of Gaza, were executed by firing squad April 15th 2010. Their bodies were returned to the Shifa Hospital. For months now, Hamas Interior Minister Fathy Hamas has been threatening to carry out capital punishment on a number of prisoners that have been given the death sentence. Although Palestinian law requires the approval and signature of the Palestinian President, Hamas has ignored that law in their effort to enforce their own law. The two young men accused of being collaborators with Israel, are the first to be "officially" executed by the Gaza government.

This comes as a blow to the Unity government talks, a day prior to the executions a high-ranking Fatah official was visiting with the Hamas Interior Minister at his residence to break the ice and jump-start the chances of a unity government. Carrying out the death sentences however will definitely harm the chances of a Palestinians Unity government, as the execution comes as an insult and an act of defiance to President Mahmoud Abbas.

At least six Palestinian human rights groups have issued statements condemning the actions of Hamas. "Capital punishment is a direct violation of human rights and the right to live...the right to live is irrevocable not even in emergencies."

The Hamas appointed military judge General Ahmad Atallah said in his statement, "This morning we executed two Palestinians accused of collaborating with the enemy. The execution came after exhausting all the appeal processes, making the execution effective." He further added, "Once we received special instructions from the Ministry of Interior to carry out the sentences, we executed them."

The statements were handed in February 2009 and Hamas based their decision on the military law of 1979 issued by the Revolution Council of the Palestinians Liberation Organization.

The number of death sentences issued by the Palestinians Authority is 68 cases, of which only 14 were carried out. Twelve of those are cases in Gaza.

Nabil Ismail, a brother of one of the slain men, tells that their family was visited by a Hamas police unit at 12:30 AM and was asked by them to go visit with their son as he will be transferred into another prison, so they went. At 7:00 AM, they received another call telling them their son was executed.

Some observers see the execution of the two men as a statement by Hamas as they are facing many challenges governing Gaza and an increased wave of offshoot groups that continue to challenge Hamas' rule.

Throughout their tenure in Gaza, Hamas and its militants have killed a number of Fatah activists. Those who survived are either sitting in jail cells awaiting to be executed, or have managed to escape to Ramallah. If Hamas' militant wing takes issue with a person, and this person continues to present a problem to them, they take that person out, assassinate them and do one of two things: either claim this person died in a Jihad related mission, or if that was too outlandish, they will just dump the body in a tunnel and say he worked the in tunnels. In both cases, if the family tries to dispute the Hamas claims, they will struggle with a bad image of their son and suffer constant harassment from Hamas. Hamas has a number of secret prisons, and the only entity that knows about this prison is the Red Cross. Hamas denies these prisons exists.

I came to know of these prisons when a relative of mine was detained there for three months on the charges of attempting to smuggle someone to Ramallah through the Erez Crossing -- the person he was smuggling was handed a death sentence. In those prisons, inmates are given a number and treated as such. The purpose is anonymity, for when the officers are asked if they know if John Smith is imprisoned in there, they would be able to swear they do not know this person--he is just a number. Hamas is also known to have outsourced torture in its prisons to members of its armed forces who are native to Jabalia Alnazlah area, as they are known to have well-built bodies, stubborn ways and don't take no for an answer which also makes them perfect interrogators.