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Executed Gaza 'collaborators' were in custody before war
Published Thursday 29/11/2012 (updated) 03/12/2012 10:21
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Gunmen ride motorcycles as they drag the body of an accused spy
through Gaza City on Nov. 20, 2012. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Seven Palestinians who were accused of spying for Israel and publicly executed during the latest assault on Gaza were already in jail when the war started, and several had been held for more than a year.

Masked gunmen shot the alleged collaborators in two public attacks at the height of Israel's eight-day bombardment of Gaza, killing one person on Nov. 16 and another six people on Nov. 20.

At the time, security officials said one man had confessed to aiding Israel while the six others "were caught red-handed" and "possessed hi-tech equipment and filming equipment to take footage of positions."

A Ma'an review of publicly available records as well as interviews with experts in Gaza show that all of these men had been in the custody of the Hamas government for months and in one case years before Israel launched its "Pillar of Cloud" operation.

Ashraf Aweida, the first victim, had been held on suspicion of spying but had not been formally convicted before his body was dumped in the street outside Shifa hospital along with a note claiming he had confessed to assisting in Israeli assassinations, according to human rights activists in Gaza. The six others who were killed Nov. 20 had all been formally sentenced to death no later than September.

Palestinian human rights activists and a senior Hamas official have condemned the killings as illegal, saying the men should have been brought to justice under the law.

According to public records maintained by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and other groups, six of the seven men had already had their day in court by the time Israel launched its assault Nov. 14.

Three of them -- Amer al-Aef, Zuheir Hamouda and Ghassan Asfur -- were sentenced to death in 2012. Two others, Ribhi Bedawi and Fadel Abu Shalluf, received the same sentence in 2011. The sixth victim, Naim Ashur, was convicted of treason in March 2010, according to the Independent Commission for Human Rights, the Palestinian Authority's official rights ombudsman.

"Prior to the attack on Gaza they were all in custody," said Hamdi Shakura, the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights' democracy development unit, in an interview.

"We have no information as to whether they were released or handed to militants. We are waiting for the results of the government committee. We are hopeful we will see a real investigation and action by the government," Shakura told Ma'an.

Images of the victims -- including one showing a man's lifeless body chained to a motorcycle and being dragged throughout the streets of Gaza City -- underscored the sentiment toward informants after Israel launched its brutal air assault, which killed over 170 people and injured hundreds.

Officials in Gaza also used the images to warn would-be spies against cooperating with Israel. After Aweida's body was found outside Shifa hospital, a security official cited the killing as evidence the government was not lowering its guard against "those who mess with the security of our homeland."

A week since the ceasefire, the circumstances of how these seven men were removed from their jail cells and ended up dead on Gaza City's streets remain unclear.

Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for the Hamas government, promised a full investigation into the killings, which he described as unlawful.

However senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar dismissed criticism from Palestinian human rights groups.

"We will not allow one collaborator to be in Gaza, and let human rights groups say whatever they want. A human has rights if they have honor and not if they are a traitor," he said Saturday.

The remarks followed condemnation by the deputy chief of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouq, who said the killings were "not acceptable at all," and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

Such an incident "must never happen again," he said.
1 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
29/11/2012 05:11
"...demanded that those responsible be held accountable. " Yea right. Sorry folks, but "held accountable" is not part of Palestinian democracy. In fact, just what is "Palestinian democracy"???

2 ) shirley / australia
29/11/2012 05:30
executing people withoutfair trial is no better than iSreal and shame on pals lthere is enough killing and death and condem maan news for not mentioning saudi KING gravely ill after last 2 yrs of unrelenting support from gulf states and especially SAUDI Arabia did miracle in bringing truth band calm back to ME and their support for UNbid which started 18 months ago defying US no thanks from GAZA AL who risked lives gave money ad defied USjust tahnak IRAN who was behindstirring up ME shame oN PAL

3 ) right / no man's land
29/11/2012 10:29
How is summarily executing people helping the Palestinian struggle? Al-Zahar needs to gets his brain examined by a professional.

4 ) Rami / Palestine
29/11/2012 11:58
#2 Really? The Israeli is going to question what Palestinian democracy is?? Is there anything "Democratic" about Israel? I didn't think so either, so shut up.

5 ) Robert Weiss / Canada
29/11/2012 12:55
Brian Cohen / Palestinian democracy is just a less covered up version of Israeli democracy

6 ) firas / ppp
29/11/2012 14:00
maybe theyll be inquiry in to 1600 deaths also.so called isreali democracy..!!!!?

7 ) @brian cohen / USA
29/11/2012 14:29
please explain 'joooish democracy'? is that where the jews steal everything they want and the goyim have to put up w/it?

8 ) Justice for all / Hamastan
29/11/2012 17:18
I say the PA should take them to the ICC. Fat chance eh?

9 ) Brian cohen / Israel
29/11/2012 19:03
Israel does more genocide regularly And israel is a democracy of rules? Hahaha Israel uses african immigrants to stamp down palestinians, because african migrants in the israeli occupation forces dont know or care who palestinians are, there just doing their jobs to live a better life. Blindly

10 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
29/11/2012 20:47
Very interesting responses from #6 in Canada and #8 in the USA. (and you'll notice the small "c" in post #10 showing that it's not from me). Robert and #8 - you come from great western democracies that were founded on settlement, occupation, land theft and genocide. Hard for you to escape the fact that North America today is indeed occupied by you at the expense of the native nations. And #8 - is American democracy where you killed the natives and seized their land? That's you, no? Ditto #6

11 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
29/11/2012 20:49
And as well, Jewish democracy gives the vote to the 20% non-Jews. Ahmed Tibi is at the UN right now with Abbas, and he's an elected member of the Israeli parliament. The Palestinians, as we all know, do not allow Jews to live there - making them the real apartheid nation. Whine and squeal all you want, the truth is hard to accept that Israel is indeed a democracy. Yea, we have a discrimination problem, but nothing like what the Arabs have - Shia vs Sunni and Muslim killing Christians.

12 ) LL / Portugal
30/11/2012 10:31
"Is there anything "Democratic" about Israel? I didn't think so either" Well you are an ignorant of what Democracy means Rami. Israel is much more than Democracy, has laws. Worse, instead of claiming that Palestinian power groups helps Palestinians citizens like Israel protects their own you just reinforce the power of thugs.
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