GAZA CITY — Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament on Wednesday said they had approved a measure allowing the death penalty to be carried out in Gaza without the consent of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The move comes after Hamas officials said they were planning a series of public executions in the Gaza Strip.
The decision was announced in a statement from parliament members in Gaza, but it was unclear how many lawmakers of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council were in attendance or how they claimed the authority to rule.
The full Palestinian Legislative Council has not met since the Islamist movement took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007, ousting Fatah forces loyal to Abbas.
In theory, all execution orders must be approved by Abbas. But Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, no longer recognizes his legitimacy, and authorities have announced they are planning to carry out a series of public executions.
“Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza,” attorney general Ismail Jaber told journalists Sunday. “I ask that they take place before a large crowd.”
Jaber said the council was the “sole legal party” with authority in the matter, in reference to Abbas’s authority.
Thirteen men, most convicted of murder connected to robberies, are currently awaiting execution, according to Hamas officials.
The United Nations condemned the move.
“We are deeply concerned about recent statements made by the authorities in Gaza, including the attorney general, of their intention to implement a number of death sentences, and fear that the first executions may be imminent,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“We are also concerned about reports indicating that these executions will be implemented without the approval of the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, which is required under Palestinian law,” he said in a statement.
The last public executions in Gaza were in 2014 during the most recent war with Israel when a firing squad from Hamas’s armed wing killed six men.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, nine death sentences were handed down in the Gaza Strip in 2015 and two in the West Bank, run by the Palestinian Authority.
So far this year, around 10 more have been handed down in Gaza.