None of the Palestinians summarily executed in Gaza on charges of collaboration during Operation Protective Edge were Israeli sources or assets, an intelligence officer told the Times of Israel Wednesday.
“Not even one of the 27 was a source,” he said, adding that, during the duration of the Second Intifada a decade ago, “only one-and-a-half” actual sources were killed amid a spate of Palestinian executions of alleged collaborators that claimed many dozens of lives.
The Shin Bet security service said it could not comment on the identity of its sources but confirmed that those executed during Operation Protective Edge had all been held in prison in Gaza in the course of the hostilities. That being the case, it’s likely none of the executed would have had any information that might have played a role in an array of Israeli operations in Gaza, from locating rocket launch sites to targeted killings.
The IDF and the Shin Bet, on August 21, during the final stage of Operation Protective Edge, assassinated Hamas’s head of southern command Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Rafah commander Raed Al-Attar, and senior weapons smuggler Muhammad Barhum. All were founding members of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The targeted killings came some 30 hours after the IDF made an attempt on the life of Hamas military commander Muhammad Deif, whose fate is still unclear.
None of them, according to a source, was targeted on the basis of human intelligence.
In response, Hamas gunmen, dressed in black, their faces covered, dragged 18 shackled Palestinians into the streets of Gaza City and publicly, theatrically, executed them on August 22. A wartime court reportedly deemed the accused collaborators guilty and sentenced them to death.
Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, a former security chief in the West Bank, insinuated Wednesday that the killed Palestinians were rivals rather than collaborators. “Who are these people who were executed?” he asked Awdeh, a Fatah TV channel. “Some of those who were executed were former officers with the PA’s security apparatus.”
“Did you try them? Did you interrogate them? Where are their confessions?” he said, in a video posted and subtitled by the IBA’s Gal Berger. “Or did you perhaps bring those who once interrogated Hamas men and execute them? Why? Under what pretense?”
Tirawi said he did not want to compare Hamas to the Islamic State but then promptly did so. “What’s the difference?” he asked. “What’s the difference between someone who beheads and someone who shoots?”
He accused both groups of murder.
During an earlier stage in the operation, unnamed Palestinian security sources in Gaza told the Palestine Press News Agency that Hamas had apprehended dozens of suspected collaborators in the northern neighborhood of Shejaiya, where Hamas and the IDF did battle in mid-July, and summarily executed them following a short investigation. The sources said that many of the suspects were caught with weapons, telephones, and SIM cards from the Israeli cell provider Orange.
The intelligence source rejected these claims as “fiction” and said that rivals are often killed and family feuds settled under the guise of purging society of Israeli spies. The killing, he said, is seen as a sort of achievement that erases the stain of Israeli success.
A Shin Bet officer said that Hamas’s public killings served “simply as a deterrent.”