Arab informer faces death for helping Israel

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The Independent Online

A Palestinian military court sentenced a 50-year-old Palestinian man to death yesterday for helping the Israeli army carry out a lethal attack.

The ruling is part of a crackdown against collaborators taking place inside the courtroom and on the streets.

Ahmed Abu Issah acknowledged that he gave the Israelis information on the movements of Salah Darwazeh, who was killed on 25 July when his car was hit by Israeli missiles in the West Bank town of Nablus.

"I'm guilty and I'm asking for mercy," Issah, a labourer with nine children, told the court in Nablus. He said he received 200 shekels (about $45) every time he provided information on Mr Darwazeh's travel route.

Despite Issah's plea, the three-judge panel gave him the death sentence after a hearing that lasted 90 minutes. Spectators in the packed courtroom and some 2,000 people on the street outside chanted "execution, execution".

Palestinians say collaborators have played key roles in helping Israel carry out attacks on suspected Palestinian militants that have led to about 50 Palestinians deaths since fighting broke out last autumn.

Yesterday, Firas Abdel Haq, 23, was shot dead by Israeli troops near Nablus, Palestinian witnesses and hospital doctors said. The Israeli army said it fired on two Palestinians trying to plant a bomb; one was killed and the other escaped.

Israeli police also said they narrowly averted an attack on a bus travelling past Tel Teomim, a northern farming village. A Palestinian man tried to board with a bag of explosives, but was turned back by the driver and then caught by two off-duty soldiers on the bus.

Two suspected Palestinian collaborators were shot dead on Wednesday night in the West Bank, one in Ramallah and one near Bethlehem.

In a leaflet distributed yesterday in Bethlehem, a militant group loosely affiliated with the Fatah movement, which was founded by the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, claimed responsibility for both deaths.