Grace period over, Hamas vows to hunt down, execute collaborators

Interior Minister Fathi Hammad declares a carrot-and-stick policy toward those suspected of spying for Israel in the Strip

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas security men parade in Gaza city (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)
Hamas security men parade in Gaza city (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

One week after the Hamas government in Gaza ended its month-long amnesty campaign for collaborators with Israel, the movement’s interior minister reported on Thursday the arrest of “many collaborators,” and vowed to “pursue and execute” suspected spies who had not turned themselves in.

During a colloquium organized by the Interior Ministry titled “Entrapment and collaboration: An integrated remedy,” minister Fathi Hammad said his office would release some imprisoned collaborators who have served two-thirds of their sentence as part of a new carrot-and-stick policy.

“We will release a number of collaborators in order to implement dual treatment, including deterrence through pursuit and execution; alongside help, treatment and release [from prison],” Hammad said, according to Hamas-run news website Al-Resalah.

Hamas has largely turned its gaze inward since the end of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, cracking down on suspected collaborators with the Jewish state who were seen as key in helping the IDF identify sites to target in the Gaza Strip.

Social networks, especially Facebook, are considered by Hamas as prime breeding grounds for Israeli recruitment of Gaza residents and spies.

According to the Interior Ministry website, lectures at the anti-collaboration colloquium on Thursday focused on the role of the media in recruiting as well as combating collaboration; legal aspects of collaboration; and the role of women in fighting collaboration, among other topics.

But Hammad indicated that soon these issues may all be moot.

“The number of collaborators is small and on its way to extinction,” Hammad told the gathering, citing an opinion poll that revealed an 86 percent approval rate among Gaza residents toward Hamas’s anti-collaboration activities.

On April 10, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Hamas of failing to investigate summary executions of suspected collaborators. The New York-based watchdog said local organizations have documented over 100 cases of torture allegations pertaining to collaborators in 2012 alone.

Hamas’ armed Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam wing claimed responsibility for the summary execution of six suspected spies in Gaza on November 20, 2012.

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