Three Palestinians were executed in the Gaza Strip Thursday morning after being convicted of cooperating with Israel and providing intelligence, said a statement from Hamas' Interior Ministry.
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According to the statement, the three, ages 32, 42 and 55, were hanged after a full legal process according to Palestinian law that led to their convictions and sentencing for collaboration with Israel.
The 55-year-old was said to have begun his connection with Israel in 1987 and passed along intelligence on members of Palestinian political parties until 1993. The statement said he then renewed his contacts with Israel in 1997 and passed along information on Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip as well as locations of rocket fire and military bases and other intelligence that caused significant damage to groups opposing Israel.
The second man who was executed, aged 42, was supposedly recruited by Israeli intelligence during the Second Intifada and offered information on the positions of Hamas' military wing along with rocket-launching sites and the addresses of opposition activists. Similar accusations led to the conviction of the 32 year old who was said to have been recruited by Israeli intelligence in 2010.
The three had been held in prison for several years.
The hangings Thursday were not related to the ongoing investigation into the assassination of senior Hamas official Mazen Fuqaha'a last month. However, dozens of people have been arrested for questioning in that case, the Interior Ministry said, though it declined to name an exact figure.
Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories, condemned the executions, comparing them to those carried out by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
"The execution reminds us and emphasizes Hamas' cruelty and lack of humanity," he said. "Hamas and ISIS are different, but their methods are identical."
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank condemned the executions, saying that they were not carried out within the framework of Palestinian law, which requires the approval of the Palestinian president for executions.
On Wednesday, Hamas announced an initiative of limited time that would grant clemency to collaborators with Israel if they came forward of their own free will and would be taken for a "cleaning of their conscience."
Since last month, Hamas has clamped down on a key border crossing with Israel - the longest since it took over the coastal enclave a decade ago - while it looks into Fuqaha'a's death, which the movement blames on Israel.
DPA contributed to this report.