GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A military court in the besieged Gaza Strip sentenced six Palestinians to death on Sunday after they were found guilty of collaborating with Israel.
The Gaza Ministry of Interior said in a statement that a Gaza City court upheld the death sentences of three defendants, rejecting a final appeal, while three other defendants also found guilty of collaboration could still appeal their death penalty.
Seven other defendants were handed down prison sentences of up to 17 years with hard labor.
Under Palestinian law, willful premeditated murder, treason, and collaboration with the enemy -- usually Israel -- are punishable by death. However, all death sentences must be ratified by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out.
Despite this, Hamas' de facto administration in Gaza has carried out executions periodically without receiving approval from President Mahmoud Abbas since 2010.
Following a decision by Gaza-based legislators last year
which made death sentences “obligatory after all possible appeals against them are completed” and reportedly to be held in public, human rights group Amnesty International, EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and the UN all admonished the practice of the death penalty and urged the the legislators to reverse the decision.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov said at the time that “Palestine is one and Gaza and the West Bank are its two integral parts. I urge Hamas not to carry out these executions and I call on President Abbas to establish a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty.”
Hamas officials maintain that due to the indefinite postponement of presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territory, and the failure of the Palestinian Authority to assume most of its functions in the besieged coastal enclave, authority for ratifying death sentences lies with the legislative council in Gaza.