An international rights organization on Thursday condemned Hamas for not investigating the summary execution in November of alleged collaborators with Israel.
The report came the same day as Gaza marked the Hamas-issued deadline for known collaborators to turn themselves in and receive amnesty.
Human Rights Watch panned the Islamist government in the Gaza Strip for not following through on a promise to investigate and prosecute the men who tortured and executed suspected collaborators without due process. Seven Gazans were shot in the street during the eight-day conflict with Israel, known as Operation Pillar of Defense.
According to a report on Hamas’s al-Aqsa radio in November, the alleged collaborators with Israel “were caught red-handed” in possession of “hi-tech equipment and filming equipment to take footage of positions.” The men were summarily executed before a mob, and one man’s body was dragged through the streets from the back of a motorcycle.
The HRW report noted that Hamas leaders, including Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and deputy politburo chief Musa Abu Marzouq condemned the killings and said “an independent committee to investigate the killings” was established in the wake of the November war. Despite those statements, no one has been brought to trial for the seven killings.
“Hamas’s inability or unwillingness to investigate the brazen murders of seven men makes a mockery of its claims that it’s upholding the rule of law in Gaza,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“Even before the killings, the abuses the men suffered made the criminal justice system a travesty, regardless of their guilt or innocence.”
Last week, Hamas internal security official Mohammad Lafi accused Western spy organizations of operating in the Palestinian enclave, and claimed he had a list of names of collaborators. Among the countries mentioned by Lafi as operating agents in the Gaza Strip were the US, UK, France, Germany and unspecified Arab states.
The Hamas Interior Ministry warned last month that collaborators have until April 11 to turn themselves in, after which they “will be pursued without mercy.”
A Hamas government spokesman said Thursday that “the campaign will continue for another month” and that several informers had turned themselves in since amnesty was offered in March. It further claimed that a man surrendered himself on Wednesday, a day before the deadline expired.
Hamas said that “if their repentance is honest,” any collaborator will receive amnesty before Thursday’s midnight deadline, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
It was not clear what steps Hamas planned to take against suspected collaborators after Thursday’s deadline expires.