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Hamas: Last chance for collaborators to surrender

April 11, 2013 4:45 P.M. (Updated: April 12, 2013 8:14 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Collaborators in the Gaza Strip have until midnight to turn themselves in or face arrest, a Hamas official said Thursday.

"Month one of the crackdown on collaborators with Israel ends today, but the campaign will continue for another month," said Ibrahim Salah, a Hamas government spokesman, in a message broadcast on local radio.

On March 12, the Hamas interior ministry announced a one-month amnesty for collaborators to surrender, claiming it had a list of informers who would be detained if they did not give themselves up.

"During the first month, several informers have turned themselves in and reunited with their people through mediators," said Salah, adding that one collaborator had handed himself in Wednesday.

The ministry will not interrogate any informer who turns himself in "if their repentance is honest," Salah said, urging collaborators to give themselves up before the deadline.

Also Thursday, Human Rights Watch criticized the Hamas government's apparent failure to investigate the November murders of seven prisoners accused of collaboration with Israel.

The prisoners were publicly killed during Israel's week-long assault on the Gaza Strip.

"Hamas's inability or unwillingness to investigate the brazen murders of seven men makes a mockery of its claims that it's upholding the rule of law in Gaza," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director.

Human Rights Watch said that despite the circumstances of their deaths, the military courts that convicted the men decided primarily on the basis of coerced confessions, ignoring credible evidence that interrogators tortured at least six of them.

"Even before the killings, the abuses the men suffered made the criminal justice system a travesty, regardless of their guilt or innocence," Whitson said in a statement.

She accused the government in Gaza of failing to take even basic steps toward identifying the killers.

"Months after seven Palestinians were murdered in broad daylight, seemingly with the collusion of security officials, the Hamas authorities in Gaza appear not to have lifted a finger to investigate, let alone to hold those responsible to account," Whitson said.

"Hamas should be taking concrete steps to reform the criminal justice system and break the cycle of impunity that, as these men's cases show, lets torturers and killers roam free."

The Hamas government announced in November it was investigating how the men died.

Palestinian human rights activists along with senior Hamas officials also condemned the killings as illegal, saying the men should have been brought to justice under the law.

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