Hamas Executes Three Convicted for Assassination of Top Militant

Amnesty International say the men were found guilty "in a court that utterly disregarded international fair trial standards"

Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas escort an alleged collaborator with Israel, who was convicted in participating in killing senior Hamas commander Mazen Fuqaha, Gaza city, May 21, 2017.

Hamas executed three men on Thursday who were found guilty this week of assassinating a senior member of the militant Islamic group in March.

Mazen Faqha, a senior Hamas commander, was shot on March 24 outside his Gaza home. Hamas accused the three of collaborating with Israel.

Two of the men, Ashraf Abu Leila, 38, and Hisham al-Aloul, 44, were killed by hanging, while Abdallah al-Nashar, 38, was killed by a firing squad for the death of Faqha, who was shot in the head four times by a gunman in March near the building where he was living.

Human rights organizations in the Gaza Strip meanwhile expressed their strong opposition to the executions and had appealed to the Hamas authorities to retry the defendants. According to rights groups the accused were not fairly tried according to accepted international standards. They stressed that the three were not permitted to appeal the sentence and that the punishment was implemented as fast as possible which they claim proved proving that the sentence was carried out for the purpose of revenge rather than justice. 

"Rushing to put men to death based on an unreviewable decision of a special military court days after announcing their arrests and airing videoed confessions smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law," Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's Middle East director, said.

"Reliance on confessions, in a system where coercion, torture and deprivation of detainee's rights are prevalent, and other apparent due process violations further taint the court's verdicts. Death as government-sanctioned punishment is inherently cruel and always wrong, no matter the circumstance."

Amnesty International had urged Hamas on Wednesday to stay the executions. The human rights group says the men were found guilty "in a court that utterly disregarded international fair trial standards."

"We are urging the Hamas authorities to immediately halt these executions and ensure that the men are given a fair retrial," Amnesty said Wednesday.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 they group has carried out 25 executions, the last of which were carried out in April, while Gaza's courts have handed out 111 death sentences, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.