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EU condemns execution of suspected assassins of Mazen Fuqahaa in Gaza

May 26, 2017 5:36 P.M. (Updated: May 29, 2017 6:34 P.M.)
Hamas gunmen in Gaza City on March 10, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/Mahmoud Hams)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- After authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip executed the suspected assassin of Mazen Fuqahaa and two suspected accomplices on Thursday, the European Union Representative, the EU Heads of Mission, and the Head of Mission of Norway in Jerusalem and Ramallah promptly condemned the executions of the three Palestinians who were allegedly involved in the assassination of the Hamas leader back in March.

Two of the convicts were executed by hanging and the third was executed by a firing squad at the headquarters of the Palestinian police in Gaza and in the presence of a number of high profile figures, leaders, officials, and journalists.

Gazan authorities also said Friday that any collaborators with Israel who turned themselves into authorities would be exempted from punishment.

The Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed their “firm opposition under all circumstances” to the policy of capital punishment.

“The EU and Norway consider that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights,” adding that capital punishment is seen as “cruel and inhuman” and that it “fails to provide deterrence to criminal behavior, and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”

“The de facto authorities in Gaza must stop all executions and death sentences should be frozen in compliance with the moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority, pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend.”

After Fuqahaa was shot dead in front of his house on March 25, authorities in Gaza imposed an unprecedented security crackdown and sealed the land and sea borders of the small Palestinian territory in search for the killer, who Hamas authorities immediately claimed assassinated the Hamas leader in collaboration with Israel.

Less than two months later, on May 16, Gaza authorities announced the investigation concluded and said that the "direct executioner" and two accomplices were in custody, and had confessed to collaborating with Israeli intelligence to commit the killing.

The death sentences were issued last week, with the field military court ruling that the sentences were not subject to appeal, raising alarm among international and local human rights organizations that called on the de facto Hamas government to retry the suspects in compliance with international fair trial standards.

The EU and Norwegian missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah urged Gaza authorities at the time to “refrain” from carrying out the death penalties.

Under Palestinian law, willful, premeditated murder and treason as well as 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.

Since taking office in January 2005, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to approve executions and no one has been executed in the West Bank since then, though West Bank courts have continued to issue death sentences.

However, the Hamas administration in Gaza has carried out executions periodically without receiving approval from Abbas since 2010 when Hamas renewed the practice, claiming that Abbas’ term in office had expired.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, “There are currently at least 55 death row inmates in the West Bank and Gaza living with uncertainty as to their fate.”
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