Hamas executes 'Israeli collaborators'

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The Independent Online

Hamas said yesterday that it executed by firing squad two Palestinians convicted by a Gaza military court in 2009 of collaborating with Israel. It was the first time the Islamist group has carried out formal executions since it seized control of the Gaza Strip three years ago from the rival Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas, which governs in the occupied West Bank.

A Hamas government official confirmed the executions after the bodies of two men arrived at a Gaza hospital. The group's interior ministry said they were carried out by firing squad. The Palestinian rights group al-Mezan identified the executed men as Mohammed Ismail and Nasser Abu Freh.

Al-Mezan and four other rights groups condemned the execution and said it would not deter others. The groups also said Hamas had violated the law by carrying out the executions without Mr Abbas's authorisation and they urged the Islamist faction to desist from further executions.

Under Palestinian law, execution orders can be carried out only with presidential approval.