Hamas Planning Public Executions of Criminals in Gaza Strip

Thirteen men convicted of murder are facing execution in Gaza. Families of their victims demonstrated on Sunday, calling for the death sentences to be carried out.

Gaza execution
Hamas militants surrounding Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before their execution in Gaza City August 22, 2014. Reuters

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip are planning public executions of condemned prisoners, according to a report by AFP.

"Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza," Hamas Attorney General Ismail Jaber told journalists on Sunday, according to the report.

"I ask that they take place before a large crowd," Jaber added.

The death penalty is legal for collaborators, murderers and drug traffickers under Palestinian law, though execution orders must in theory be approved by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement have been at loggerheads since Hamas took violent control of the Strip in 2007 and Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas' legitimacy.

Though Hamas has previously carried out executions in Gaza, they have rarely been in public and most of those executed were convicted of spying for Israel.

The new announcement appears to include those convicted of criminal offences. Thirteen men, most convicted of murder connected to robberies, are currently awaiting execution.

"The victims' families have the right to demand that the punishments be implemented," Hamas official Khalil al-Haya said on Friday. Families demonstrated outside parliament on Sunday, demanding that the executions be carried out.

The last public executions in Gaza were in the midst of the 2014 war with Israel, when a firing squad from Hamas's armed wing shot dead six men before Gaza City's main mosque following prayers.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), 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.

Of the more than 170 Palestinians sentenced to death since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, around 30 have been executed, mostly in Gaza, according to the PCHR.